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In my professional experience, here are a few tips that I believe are most useful:

  • Always take as serious someone’s statement of intention to commit suicide.
  • The most important intervention is persistent encouragement that the individual find some confidant to whom they can express their feelings ... and then help them find an acceptable person.
  • Inform the person that the hopelessness/helplessness that is related to depression is time limited and they are wise not to make important decisions when so down.  C. Wendell Muncie, author of one of the first texts on depression, saw many depressed persons before the advent of medications and concluded that depression is always time limited and will improve if the person can be protected from irreversible action, suicide. 
  • Don’t be afraid to make one’s preoccupation with suicide and open issue.  Ask specifically if there is intent and the means to act.
  • Seek professional help who can evaluate if the individual requires involuntary protective care.  In many situations, medication can lead to dramatic improvement.
  • Be aware that the high frequency of suicide among alcoholics soon after drinking stops calls for heightened, not diminished, concern. 

     This stren is a harsh presentation of reality that can be easily interpreted as blaming ourselves for the victims of self-murder.  When a relative or close friend commits suicide, the common experience of guilt is not productive; it helps no one.  The pain of loss normally proceeds to healing.  Guilt unnecessarily sustains pain.  Don’t make that mistake!  Rather acknowledge that by pointing our pointing the finger at ourselves, our values and culture to accept responsibility, we position ourselves to update our faulty assumptive values.  While there are too many to eliminate the problem, by identifying those most dangerous, we can create a dramatic change.