Giving Clients Pause for Thought Concerning Suicide

Mar 06, 2017

“The most dangerous thing to do is to stand still.”

William Burroughs
Beat writer, circa 1960s

Giving Clients Pause for Thought Concerning Suicide

TISA Description of the Problem: The pain that drives one towards suicide is indeed great. Sometimes it can propel a client towards impulsive action. During ongoing therapy we try to find ways to slow this rush towards action down. Once one has established a strong alliance with the client, the following interviewing technique may help with this process.

Tip: The turmoil that often surrounds a patient when contemplating suicide lead clients to forget that making the decision to take ones life is first,and foremost, a decision – a most critical decision. It is irreversible. Consequently it makes common sense to make sure that such a decision is approached from a frame of mind in which decision making is most likely to be sound. I find that the following statement sometimes helps patients to see this wisdom, decreasing the likelihood of the client moving impulsively while in a state of turmoil:

“Suicide is a very major decision. And I know you take care in making your decisions. In your current frame of mind would you make a decision to get married?”

TISA Follow-up: The above thoughtful strategy from Sylvia Davis, L.C.S.W. can gracefully lead into a variety of paths. But most importantly, I think it can help to build an intimacy between the clinician and the client in which the client feels safe. From this sense of safety the client may more readily “slow things up” on the rush to decide whether or not to commit suicide.

Tip provided by:

Sylvia Davis, L.C.S.W.
Team Leader
Saco, Maine

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Of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing