Suicidal Intent

“What Stops You from Killing Yourself?”

“What Stops You from Killing Yourself?”

I advise my students to ask their suicidal clients, “What stops you? What stops you from killing yourself?” Some are horrified. They see this almost as a dare, as if they are saying to a hurting, suicidal person, If you really wanted to kill yourself, you would have done it already. What stops you? To […]

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Speaking of Suicide … Within Limits

Speaking of Suicide … Within Limits

I don’t want to encourage people to kill themselves. I also don’t want to give advice on ways to die by suicide, or to advertise the supposed virtues of suicide. Can you blame me? Some people do blame me. Hundreds of people have submitted to this website comments that could be construed as pro-suicide. And […]

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Beyond Magic: How Do We Detect Suicidal Thoughts?

Beyond Magic: How Do We Detect Suicidal Thoughts?

No objective test exists for suicidal thoughts – no X-ray to detect broken hope, no CAT scan to reveal intolerable emotional pain, no blood test to expose toxic intentions. This reality is disappointing, even devastating. People understandably want professionals to predict and prevent suicide. For example, in the aftermath of the pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally […]

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The 3-Day Rule and Suicide

The 3-Day Rule and Suicide

Many people who attempt suicide do so impulsively. Extremely impulsively. One study of people who attempted suicide found that 48% thought of suicide for fewer than 10 minutes before making the suicide attempt. The haste with which many people die by suicide is staggering. Had they waited a little longer, then the intense impulse to […]

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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. In 1961, he fatally shot himself in the head. Was his suicide inevitable? Ernest Hemingway, the famous author and the […]

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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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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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