There is a point of no return. It is a place in the emotional landscape past which talking is not enough. If as a counselor you think that the pressure cooker is about to blow, your duty is to call upon emergency measures. These measures will vary according to what is available to you, and what you are permitted to do by law. The organization you are associated with will have its powers as well as its restrictions. It may have specific protocols and procedures. If you work for an organization, you may be able to do some things, and not other things.
It’s also vital to evaluate whether or not the suicidal person can function in his or her own environment. Sometimes it’s best to remove the person from his or her usual haunts for a period of time, or even permanently. A move can be a renewal of life. But is that within your capacity? What are your limitations?
Knowing how to build a support network outside the sufferer’s neighborhood is important. Perhaps more resources can be made available in a different place. Perhaps negative emotional triggers won’t be present in a new place.
Referring the sufferer to a crisis centre, even a hospital, may be in order. Reflet de Société and the Café Graffiti work with a variety of community support groups. An inventory is published in every issue of the magazine. The refletdesociete.com website is linked to many such agencies and organizations in the province of Quebec.
Knowing where you can reach out to makes your job doable. Giving the sufferer places to go is vital: people in this situation must know that they are not alone, that they can change things if they reach out to the right helping hand. Offering that hand is a human privilege. It’s all about infusing hope where precious little exists.
The sufferer in crisis must be made to feel, to know, that no situation is insurmountable. Death is not the only option. We are all empowered by our human condition to change things.
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).