(TRIGGER WARNING: THIS VIDEO & POST MENTIONS SUICIDE AND EATING DISORDERS)
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This heartbreaking Big Talk conversation has generated over 1 million views on Instagram Reels. I shared this message with the speaker, Sharon Dunas, and she asked me to share this important blog post she wrote about suicide prevention:
SUICIDE PREVENTION BY SHARON DUNAS, LMFT
- Question. Ask the person: Do you have a plan? Tell me your plan. Do you think this would work, etc? What are your thoughts about death? What are your thoughts about your dead body? Who do you think will find your dead body? What would they feel? Discuss the lethality of the plan with them.
- Frame the consequences: What if you don’t die? How would you like to live with damaged kidneys or a liver, or brain dysfunction for life? Most suicide atempts are not successful.
- Express Feeling: You matter to me! I am really scared! I will miss you terribly! I don’t want you to make this choice! Teach them it is O.K. to express feelings.
- Make it real: What do you think your mom – dad – parents – sister – brother – wife, etc will feel about your suicide? What will the effect be on their lives? What will they think when they find your body? Are you prepared for them to suffer?
- Ask what would you do if you had a mom, or a sister that wanted to kill herself? What would you say to your sister in this case.
- Mirror back their pain: “I imagine you are feeling awful, sad, horrible. It does sound like your life has been so hard recently. You want me to hear how much pain you are in. I can imagine how this unrelenting blackness is so hard to live with.” Be There for Them: Don’t try to fix them. Bear witness to their pain. Sit with their pain.
- Arrange a suicide watch: People do not commit suicide when they are with other people Tell the person that they may not leave your side until they come up with another solution other than suicide for their sadness or lost lonely feelings.
- Persuade the Person to Get Help: Help them develop “life connections.” Take them to a therapist or a pastor, rabbi, or minister; arrange for them to attend a support group; take them to the first meeting.
- Give them all the suicide prevention hot lines in your area. Put these numbers in large letters on large index cards – tape to the wall or near their phone. Needlepoint these letters on a pillow as a gift.
- Talk to them about connections: If they are a teacher – “Tell me about one of your favorite students.” If they are an RTE bus driver, “Tell me about a special passenger on the bus. Tell me about a special day you had this last summer or this last year.” Tell them there will be other connections like these in the future.
- Help them remember a good time in their lives. Remind them that things change and they will know other special times like those they have known in the past. Remind them that things can look very different in a very short period of time!
- Get In Touch With the Part of them that Wants Life – “I want to talk to the part of you that told me about your suicide plan. I want to talk to that part that wants to know you are planning to end your life. Let me hear from the other voice in you. The voice or part you keep in hiding. Let that part or voice talk now!”
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Sharon Dunas, LMFT
Mental Health Clinical Advocate – 310-207-3505 — . www.namiwla.org