A Life Contract

The pressure must be reduced – and fast. Crisis intervention has to focus on the safety valve. First, the steam has to be let out; then, the counselor has to engage the sufferer in a “life contract” – or, in other words, a “non-suicide pact.”

Determine the elements in their life that throw the sufferer off balance. These are the events, the influences, the people that cause the deepest emotional distress. This will give us clues as to what to watch for.

For example: does he get anxious every time he runs into his ex-girlfriend? We can suggest that he stay away from places where he might run into her. And if he must meet her for some reason, perhaps he shouldn’t be alone. He should take a friend he can trust for support. He can then air out his feelings with his friend after each encounter. The friend should be made aware of what resources are available should warning signs appear: that includes internal resources (our training, attitudes, education, personality strengths and weaknesses) and external resources (help lines, counselors, psychologists, drop-in centres, books and websites, hobby shops, etc.).

Book excerpt from Quebec Suicide Prevention Handbook (2014), Éditions TNT

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