More and more of my work these days is not just about coaching on enhanced communication skills and developing personal resilience techniques - de-escalation, engagement and prevention of the effects of stress - it now involves coaching techniques on engaging with those people who are considering suicide.
A question often asked, "Should we talk about suicide or ignore it?" We tried the latter technique and it didn't work. So the answer must be to talk about it. I am a huge advocate of talking about suicide. Not about how or why after the event, how and why before people become unwell.
Education is the key to prevention, it always is. If we know that something is likely to happen if we follow a certain path or that something untoward happens in our life, then we can learn the likely consequences and how to avoid it.
In my humble view, we need to educate people on the causes of suicide before they head down that lonely path to self-destruction. Why, because when the person becomes unwell they no longer function as do you and I. Their thoughts are only of dark places, of negative emotions, of an inability so see a way out of the blackness that envelopes them.
Logic is long gone, their head is full not just of the catalyst to their event but also of every other little bad thing that ever happened to them over their entire lifetime. It is imperative that people know what may happen to them if they do become unwell before it happens so that they can be reminded of what they learned about their current ill-health.
Education is the key. And education means not only talking about the causes of suicidal thoughts, it also means providing strategies on how to stay healthy. In today’s environment where talking with each other has diminished we need to learn as much about keeping ourselves well as we do about the basics skills of life. Reading, writing, arithmetic and life-skills, these are now our four important educational requirements.
Footnote: I have purposefully used the terms unwell and ill-health in this post. Why, because in most cases that is all feelings and thoughts of suicide are, the person is simply unwell and can get better if they get the right help at the right time.