So, I am putting out this offer…to listen to anyone you may know who is dealing with the dark thoughts that leave some of us thinking that suicide is somehow an answer. It clearly is not; it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Please read on to understand what has prompted me to make this offer.
I just finished viewing a piece on Good Morning America, one that spoke of the fact that over 1.8 million people committed suicide in 2018 and that many of those occurred after being released from in-patient treatment at a mental facility. In a study subsequently conducted, it was revealed that the suicide rate among those who received a simple follow-up note from their therapist or the facility where they were being treated after being released dropped significantly, as compared to the group that didn’t receive the follow-up note.
And, in interviewing patients, the common thread was that they didn’t think anyone cared and if just one person had said or done something to let them know they did, even a stranger, they wouldn’t have attempted suicide.
Well, the topic is something I know about, having lived with suicidal thoughts from my early teens and having attempted suicide several times from the age of eighteen until I was over thirty.
While I have past training (an MS) and experience in the field of counseling psychology, I am not certified to practice counseling, nor do I wish to present myself as one who is. But I do know how to listen and understand and to share my journey out of those dark places, should anyone want to have someone such as myself to listen without judgment and without any intention of trying to “fix them.”
That is what I am offering. If you know of someone who you feel could benefit from just being able to talk with someone who understands, please let me know and we can discuss it privately. If you wish to read on, I’m providing some additional background information about my own life as it relates to this topic.
A number of years ago I had the personal experience of working with a friend who was suicidal and who sought out my support, sharing with me both his feelings and his suicidal thoughts and eventually making it very clear as to when and how he intended to carry the act out. At that point I sought the advice of other therapists and given the details, their advice was to have the person “Baker Acted,” which involved calling the police, explaining the severity of the situation, and then having them go to his apartment and take him to a hospital for a mandatory 72-hour involuntary stay, during which he was evaluated and given the necessary drugs to stabilize his mental condition. He then agreed to remain in treatment for a period of time until he was released for continued outpatient treatment.
My wife and I worked with this person’s sister to provide him with non-psychological support (encouraging him to join a 12-step program to deal with his use of drugs and alcohol; cleaning up and restoring his apartment to a condition that was both livable and inviting for him to come home to; helping him find a non-stressful job that permitted him to once again support himself, along with helping him work out a budget and offering encouragement for him to manage his finances in a responsible way).
Obviously it is best if someone we love is showing signs of possibly being suicidal that we encourage them to seek professional help. But we also must not underestimate the importance of letting them know that someone cares about them, that they understand how they feel. And I encourage any of you who are moved to make a similar offer to do so. You just might be the conduit for the still, small voice they need to hear.