Alice Newton-Leeming, Director of Mental Health Learning and Silver Trainer (50+ workshops) in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), discusses why we should, in fact, talk about suicide.
Should we ask about suicide?
Talk about suicide? ASK about suicide? Surely not?
I wouldn’t want to put the idea into someone’s head! If they weren’t thinking about it, mentioning it would surely offer it as an option, and then they might think about it, maybe even do it, and it will be my fault.
These fears and worries are real for so many individuals. But they are based on a myth.
Asking about suicide, will not and does not, put the idea into someone’s mind.
Instead, these fears and worries that so many individuals have, end up creating a huge barrier for individuals who have thoughts of suicide who need and want to talk about suicide but aren’t able to, because they are never asked.
It is very rare for a person with thoughts of suicide to be fully decided on suicide. Often they are torn between feelings of wanting to live and wanting to die.
However, the community message that continues, is that suicide is wrong, that it’s not ok.
And therefore individuals thinking about suicide don’t feel able to share their feelings, even though they want to. They too, have a fear. Fear around how others will react or respond.
Will I be judged?
Will I be laughed at?
Will I be dismissed?
Will I be helped?
By asking about suicide, we send a reassuring message, that we are someone who wants to know about suicide. About their thoughts of suicide and we want to help.
But what if I am wrong? I hear you ask.
Then the person knows that we cared enough to ask, that we’re not afraid to use the word suicide, and that it’s ok for them to use it too, whether that’s now, or in a weeks, months or 10 years time.
Asking about suicide is a win-win situation. You may help to save a life in the immediate, or you help challenge the stigma around suicide for the future.
“Are you thinking about suicide?”
Alice is the Director of Mental Health Learning. She has worked and volunteered within the field of mental health for over 12 years, specialising in suicide prevention. She works to equip members of the community and Managers in the workplace with the skills to spot signs of distress and know how to respond to them by providing training in mental wellbeing, self harm and suicide prevention. Alice is a skilled public speaker and facilitator having been key note speaker and workshop facilitator at a variety of events and conferences. Her experience, knowledge and passion inspired her to found Mental Health Learning.