Mental Health Professionals

For Therapists Who Want – or Need – to Improve Their Suicide Prevention Skills

For Therapists Who Want – or Need – to Improve Their Suicide Prevention Skills

If you are a psychotherapist, it is likely that your graduate studies included precious little training in suicide prevention. You can get that knowledge in other ways. To name a few: Practice Guidelines Several organizations have published guidelines for clinical practice with suicidal individuals. Those practice guidelines contain a wealth of information on topics related to […]

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“Woefully Inadequate”: Suicide Prevention Training in Graduate Schools

“Woefully Inadequate”: Suicide Prevention Training in Graduate Schools

With the exception of psychiatrists, most mental health professionals have received very little, if any, training in graduate school on suicide-related topics: “Competence in the assessment of suicidality is an essential clinical skill that has consistently been overlooked and dismissed by the colleges, universities, clinical training sites, and licensing bodies that prepare mental health professionals.” […]

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What is a Suicide Gesture?

What is a Suicide Gesture?

Many clinicians and researchers advocate for abandoning the term “suicide gesture,” but its use still persists. Over the last few years, several definitions have been reported: “…A suicide gesture is like a one person play in which the actor creates a dramatic effect, not by killing or even attempting to kill himself, but by feigning […]

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Is Suicide Inevitable for Some People?

Is Suicide Inevitable for Some People?

A 61-year-old man, E.H., survived suicide attempts, received care for depression in psychiatric hospitals, and battled alcoholism for many years. His father died by suicide. E.H. was convinced that one day he, too, would kill himself, and he did. Was his suicide inevitable? Ernest Hemingway, the famous author and the man described above, died by suicide […]

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Should Therapists Attend the Funeral of a Client who Dies by Suicide?

Should Therapists Attend the Funeral of a Client who Dies by Suicide?

The loss of a client to suicide is devastating. If as a therapist you experience this tragic loss, you may go through the familiar questions that beleaguer all suicide survivors. Could I have done something differently? Why couldn’t I prevent their suicide? There is another question for mental health professionals that is not talked about […]

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Talking Back to Suicidal Thoughts

Talking Back to Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts take different forms. Some politely knock on the door. You let them in, entertain them a bit, and then they leave. But suicidal thoughts can also be most unwelcome. In such cases, you do not want to think of suicide. The thoughts still come. They invade. They refuse to leave. So What Can […]

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“You Can’t Do Everything”: Limitations in Helping a Suicidal Person

“You Can’t Do Everything”: Limitations in Helping a Suicidal Person

Just about every list of “suicide myths” mentions this one: “If a person is serious about killing themselves then there is nothing you can do.”  But is it always a myth? In important ways, yes, it is a myth. There are many things that loved ones of a suicidal individual can do to help – things like […]

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“How Would You Listen to a Person on the Roof?”

“How Would You Listen to a Person on the Roof?”

What would you say to a person on the roof? That is, if you were called out to a crisis scene, where a young woman sat on the roof of a tall building weeping and shouting that she would jump at any moment, what would you say to her? This provocative question – What would […]

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Preventing Suicide Attempts in 4 Sessions: Is It Possible?

Preventing Suicide Attempts in 4 Sessions: Is It Possible?

In just four sessions, the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program aims to stop somebody who recently attempted suicide from making another attempt. This is quite an important goal, because a previous suicide attempt is the largest predictor of eventual suicide. Is it really possible to prevent another suicide attempt with just four sessions of therapy? […]

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The Most Dangerous Time: Suicide After Discharge from a Psychiatric Hospital

The Most Dangerous Time: Suicide After Discharge from a Psychiatric Hospital

There are many characteristics that place a person at higher risk for suicide – depression, substance use, a prior suicide attempt, as examples.  It is important for clinicians to know that an especially dangerous characteristic, one that exponentially increases the chances of suicide, is recent discharge from a psychiatric hospital. I am at the Aeschi West […]

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