Parents

“Shame Festers in Dark Places”: Keeping Suicide Secret

“Shame Festers in Dark Places”: Keeping Suicide Secret

A friend recently sent me an anguished email about a friend of hers whose teenage daughter died the week before. The mother was telling others that the death was an accident, when it was unquestionably a suicide. This saddened my friend greatly – not only the suicide itself, but also the family’s shame, so intense […]

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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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Is a Suicide Attempt a Cry for Help?

Is a Suicide Attempt a Cry for Help?

“She is not really suicidal. She just wants attention.” “He did not really attempt suicide. It was just a cry for help.” “If she had really wanted to die, she’d be dead.” These are often the reactions of friends and family to a suicidal person. Sometimes, it is true that a person who made what […]

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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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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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10 Reasons Teens Avoid Telling Parents about Suicidal Thoughts

10 Reasons Teens Avoid Telling Parents about Suicidal Thoughts

Teenagers often tell me that they do not like to talk with their parents about their suicidal thoughts. Some teens do not tell their parents at all. There are many reasons why teens lock parents out. The biggest reason that teens give me for not talking to their parents about their suicidal thoughts is a […]

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Do Antidepressants Cause Suicide?

Do Antidepressants Cause Suicide?

Antidepressants and suicide are an odd combination. On the one hand, antidepressants reduce depression, which is a major cause of suicide. But – and this is an important “but” – there is also consistent evidence that, in a very small proportion of adolescents and young adults, antidepressants can trigger suicidal thoughts and suicide itself. Before I […]

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Uncovering Suicidal Thoughts

Uncovering Suicidal Thoughts

To help a person deal with suicidal thoughts, you first need to know they have them. The challenge here is that many people who seriously consider suicide do not tell their therapist, at least not fully.  What To Do? Shawn Shea, M.D., a psychiatrist and expert on suicide risk assessment, has described excellent techniques for […]

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Are You Afraid that Asking about Suicidal Thoughts will Anger the Person?

Are You Afraid that Asking about Suicidal Thoughts will Anger the Person?

Many people are afraid to ask a person if he or she is considering suicide, because they fear the person will get angry. The thinking goes, if I ask about suicide, they will assume I think they are crazy or unstable. I have asked dozens and dozens – perhaps even hundreds – of people whether […]

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Won’t People Spontaneously Disclose their Suicidal Thoughts?

Won’t People Spontaneously Disclose their Suicidal Thoughts?

It can be a daunting challenge for someone to bring up suicidal thoughts on their own. One study looked at 100 people who died by suicide the same day that they met with a mental health professional. Of these, only 22% discussed suicide with the professional. Of course, many people who seriously consider suicide do confide in others. […]

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