Often, counseling emerges from the confines of being strictly a science and becomes much more diverse and individualized in nature. This is a sentiment that is relayed in an article by Bethany Bray (2019) on the topic of suicide prevention. It is also frequently noticeable when discussing or observing suicide ideation in patients. Though recent years have seen an increase in deaths by suicide in almost all demographic, age, gender, and cultural groups, the methods by which suicide prevention has been utilized continue to be effective. There have been records of many individuals citing signs, outreach programs, and crisis hotlines as interventions that interrupted their intentions to commit suicide. Talking about suicide does not cause suicide, but the lack of hope, support, and a number of other factors can often lead to it. Suicide prevention tactics aim to respond to these issues and counseling employs similar methods by allowing a patient to feel safe and discuss suicide even at their lowest points. Empathizing with a patient’s ideations does not mean that the counselor approves of them, but simply provides room for the patient to attempt to understand their condition.
The prevention of suicide or the process of looking for suicidal ideation includes a number of factors and components. The process during which a counselor discusses suicide with a client should be clear about the confidentiality of the conversation, attentive and not aiming to problem-solve during the initial talk, and the counselor should be observant of risk factors. These often include environmental, financial, social, and personal changes or difficulties. The initial approach presented by the article outlines the best current technique concerning suicide, as it allows for the client to feel less afraid of interference with their professional ambitions, institution intervention, or other sudden changes.
The next step of analyzing suicide ideation includes formulating a safety plan with the client’s involvement. The article suggests using templates from professional organizations and establishing information fundamental to a situation during which the client may be prone to a crisis. The outlined and most essential components include contact information of family, friends, or other professionals, personal warnings of an oncoming crisis, coping strategies, and protective factors. This process is vital as it empowers the client, giving them the ability to control the way in which they are able to manage a crisis situation concerning their condition.
The article provides an in-depth analysis of protective factors, which are defined as a combination of things that can support a client through low moments. They can be categorized into six groups which are skills and strategies for coping, hope in the form of goals, moral or cultural objections, reasons to live, engaged care, and support. These categories can be very useful as they can be assessed with a client in a safer setting and revisited during a client’s crisis. Though it does not guarantee to be a watertight coping mechanism, the simple and strategic approach is beneficial during a moment of crisis and incohesion.
Both previously utilized and currently developing strategies for suicide prevention and recognition of suicide ideation are essential to destigmatize and combat the issue. It is important to recognize that a number of individuals are vulnerable to suicide ideation and with rates of suicides increasing, the services and care provided by professionals are vital. As such, the ways in which counselors approach both prevention and discussion about suicide should continue to develop in order to begin to see change.
Bray, B. (2019). Making it safe to talk about suicidal ideation. Counseling Today.