Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Conversations to Prevent Suicide

According to the recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds, mostly among young people.

For me, the report sounds extraordinary or incredible. The rise of suicides has become too alarming.

Something needs to be done given this sign or reality we’re all faced with in our times.

As a psychotherapist, I’ve been into numerous sessions with individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings.

A number actually made multiple attempts to take their lives or have been hospitalized and taking medications.

It’s always a difficult challenge for me just as much as it is for anyone. To be an ivory-Tower academic or theoretical interventionist to the suicidal is damaging. Information alone doesn’t save or heal.

Whether in you or in someone you know, there are warning signs you can watch out for and be aware of in order to prevent unnecessary self destruction or taking of one’s life.

A quick info graphic below may be helpful.


Suicide is prevention. Be prepared for it.

Remember that suicide is complex in nature. It’s often multi-causal.

It’s never external (eg. circumstances, abuse, losses) alone.  More importantly and essentially, the root problem of suicide is internal.

What can you do to help someone who is suicidal?

Suicide prevention is accelerated by conversation. So, make sure you speak if you’re worried about the person!

Here are tips for suicide-prevention conversations (source: Dr. Jeanne Segal’s help-guide):

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”

“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”

“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”

Questions you can ask:

“When did you begin feeling like this?”

“Did something happen to make you start feeling this way?”

“How can I best support you right now?”

“Have you thought about getting help?”

What you can say that helps:

“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”

“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.” 

“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”


“When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”