Intervening to save the life of a suicidal youth means conveying a sense of hope: you must be warm and very, very human in your approach. A spirit of simplicity and humility on your part is absolutely necessary. Without humility in your heart, you’ll never find the right way to approach a distressed person. You want to convey, from the heart, why life is worthwhile, and what can be done to alleviate the sufferer’s emotional burdens.
The following advice is the product of trial and error, of years of efforts by many, many suicide prevention workers, including Raymond Viger. Here, then, is how you should approach a suicidal teen, youth, or anyone in such deep distress, for that matter:
Despite your help, the sufferer may go ahead with their suicide plan anyway. This may happen even if you’ve done all you can, and you’ve done everything exactly right. This is a volatile, unpredictable situation. You’re not the only factor in the sufferer’s thinking. Keep in mind that you’re there to help, but that you can’t save every life. A failed suicide intervention is not your fault.
You can intervene in several ways. But you can’t do it all. Suicide prevention work has its limits: physical, psychological, financial…
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).