Let’s demystify the process. Here are a few basic facts:
- Talking about suicide with a depressed person won’t push them off the cliff. Indeed, a comforting presence and a listening ear are the best therapies. Give the person the opportunity to express their fears, their suffering. Next, open the door to possible solutions. Encourage anything someone can turn their energies toward to get their mind off of their current troubles.
- The foundation of any successful intervention is honesty. Be frank. Desperate people can smell insincerity.
- Everyone you can get to in the person’s circle of friends, family, work and school colleagues should be brought into the process as soon as possible. Too often, after a suicide, friends and family gather to compare notes, to talk about the clues they let slip by, to regret the warning signs they didn’t tell anyone else about… They realize, far too late, that all the signals were there and nothing was done about it.
- Suicidal thinking isn’t a finite process with a definitive beginning, middle and end. Someone can chronically think morbid thoughts. Several interventions may be necessary before the person recovers their will to live. Building self-esteem is very important.
- Suicide is neither an act of cowardice nor an act of courage. It’s simply an expression of unbearable psychological pain at a particular moment in life.
Book excerpt from Quebec Suicide Prevention Handbook (2014), Éditions TNT
Suicide Prevention Hotlines:
Québec: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553). CLSCs can also help you.
Canada: Canada Suicide Prevention Service 833-456-4566
U.S.: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).