Beware: Hard-hitting questions ahead….
Have you ever thought about suicide?
Not about actually doing it (though perhaps you have?), but thought about it in terms of when someone else tells you they are feeling like ending it all?
What do you feel about someone taking that action for him/herself?
How might you even start to assess the risk factors for that person?
And what if the client in front of you tells you that it’s the end for them?
What buttons does that press for you personally?
Many years ago I worked with Samaritans and we often commented that those who talk about it, rarely actually do it. It’s the ones who don’t talk about it, who go through with it.
Now I realise this is difficult territory, and particularly if you have been to that point yourself.
But if the thought of working with these elements feels too risky for you, then it will undoubtedly feel too risky for your client to talk to you about as well.
Take a moment to reflect on how you feel. What do you believe for yourself about suicide? How might you manage those feelings and your responses to your client? How you will work with the rest of the session? And how you will work through what is next in your client’s process?
It’s BIG stuff. But so is life. And death. And this is the stuff of therapy rooms.
Before Christmas I was reading an online article entitled “Breaking the Stigma” which focussed on enabling people to talk much more about suicidal thoughts and actions.
What would it feel like for you, to specifically ask your client if they feel suicidal?
I haven’t ever considered taking my own life. But I have worked with those who have, both in thought and action.
It’s part of life.
So how are you feeling right now, reading and thinking about this process?
What about the S word….?
For you? For your client? For your clinical work?
What do you need for yourself right now? How will you meet that need for yourself?