Talking About the Unthinkable: National Suicide Prevention Month

Aug 31, 2023

The campaign “Make It OK” aims to reduce the stigma of mental illness and encourage people to talk about their psychological pain with someone. Talking about one’s anguish with someone who is listening reduces the burden of that pain.

Consider the case of wanting to die. How is it possible to talk about something like that?

For most people, the answer would be that it’s impossible to keep those thoughts to oneself, letting them fester and grow. This is where a mental health worker (professional, practitioner, case worker, support specialist, peer specialist, etc.) can potentially save a life. Being intentional about bringing up the topic of suicide could be the one thing that would help the most because it indicates that they’re willing to take on the emotional burden of a scary conversation with their client.

This doesn’t only apply to mental health workers – it applies to you or anyone else who is concerned about their loved one. If you are too scared to bring up the topic because it’s so distressing, then you’re not doing the one thing that would help the most, which is to indicate through your actions that you’re willing to take on that emotional burden in the conversation with your loved one. Most people don’t want to bring it up because they’re scared of what they might hear, and understandably so.

In the Training Institute’s Suicide Risk Assessment class, we teach that one of the most effective interventions is to ask the question, “Are you thinking of suicide?” The authenticity and bravery of this question asked with sincerity and compassion, can open the door to a deep connection between client and practitioner that can be lifesaving.

We are offering this class virtually on September 25th, a Board-accredited module that provides person-centered strategies for discussing this difficult topic. Consider enrolling today.