Understanding Suicide

Suicide and Suicide Prevention

This is a two-part video series on suicide. The first video outlines some of the common misconceptions or areas of confusion, such as the conception of suicide as an event caused by a biologized depression, as opposed to a deeply personal act. I then suggest two very general (though noninclusive) pathways to suicidal contemplation: as an escape from some intractable emotional or psychological pain/suffering, and/or, as a response to a perceived lack of meaning in one’s life.

The second video explores how the above understanding might guide intervention and/or prevention, including taking a hard look at the role played by attitudes and assumptions within our cultures and communities. I give some of my own opinions on what might be wrong with mainstream approaches to dealing with the problem of suicide, and use the above framework to point toward sensible ways of engaging someone who is feeling suicidal. By the end, viewers should have a very basic sense of how they might assess suicide risk, and learn how to feel more comfortable with these all too important conversations.

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Video 1 of 2 (watch on YouTube)

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Video 2 of 2 (watch on YouTube)

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Do you have anything to add or contribute to the conversation about suicide? Add your thoughts below. Here are some questions to stimulate discussion:

  1. Is suicide the result of prior causal events (e.g. is it something that necessarily happens in the right conditions), or is it a voluntary act that is more probable under certain conditions?
  2. If it is inappropriate to say that someone ‘committed suicide’ (due to implied guilt/shame), and misleading to say that someone ‘died by suicide’ (the person sounds passive to the process), what is a better way for us to talk about it?
  3. Professionals seem divided on whether it is wise to engage in public discourse on the topic of suicide. Some argue that it should be a good thing because it reduces stigma and encourages people to be more comfortable having these important discussions. Others seem concerned that it may place ideas in people’s heads (e.g. by ‘cognitive contagion’) that may increase rather than decrease overall suicide rates. Which approach seems most reasonable to you?
  4. What could we be doing, as professionals, to better educate the public and/or help those who are either suicidal, or wanting to support someone who is?
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1 Comment

  1. Jean MacDonald on September 15, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Well as one who attempted suicide many years ago. I would say more awareness defiantly needs to come to the surface so to speak. Both for the person thinking about it as well as those dealing with a suicidal person. I can appreciate both factors in feeling that some may get thoughts from talking about it however others like myself need to know or feel that someone cares enough not to judge or put down but to listen and maybe give suggestions to other alternatives. I also believe that if a person really for whatever the reason truly wishes to take their own life they will do so. That is when the ones left behind will need to try to understand nothing could have been done. These r the ones who will need help and guidance. This is my personal opinion. I suffer everyday with suicidal thoughts. Some days are not as bad. For me I believe it’s because of the closeness I came to being gone. It was so peaceful and that feeling has never left my memory. I am not crazy. This is my journey with almost ending my life.