Exploring the Ambivalence of Suicide

Mar 01, 2017

“Culture is speech. Humans use language not so much to convey factual information as to construct worlds, illuminating certain facets of reality while throwing others into the shade, and calling up images that demand appraisal and sometimes action.”

Yi-Fu Tuan
Geographer and Writer
from “Passing Strange and Wonderful”

Exploring the Ambivalence of Suicide

TISA Description of the Problem: Ambivalence is often a component in the thinking and feelings of a client considering suicide. Naturally, in assessing the potential risk of a client, it is useful to try to clarify this ambivalence. There are many different ways to do this task. In a client, who is not manipulative or prone to interpersonal games with the clinician, the following creative tip may help the interviewer get a better read on the client’s actual intent.

Tip: I sometimes ask the following question to help uncover suicidal ambivalence:

“If I gave you a little tool on which you only have to press a button to die, what would you do with it?”

TISA Follow-up:

Tip provided by:

Renee Roy
Post-graduate Program Director
Montreal, Canada

TISA is a site dedicated to advancing the science and art
Of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing