When I first started my journey of becoming a therapist suicide scared me. Talking about suicide scared me I told myself talking about it would make it worse. I told myself it would make the individual feel uncomfortable when in reality it was me that was scared and uncomfortable.
This is the problem society is experiencing today regarding suicide. Suicide scares people, and it makes them uncomfortable. What do we do when something makes us uncomfortable? We avoid it or act out of fear! Family members look the other way hoping it will resolve itself and mental health professionals automatically jump to hospitalization. I have witnessed and heard the above scenarios happen more often than not. We aren't sitting down with these individuals asking them how we can help or asking them what they need from us?
It's this thought process that is keeping a veil of shame around suicide. Keeping individuals feeling ashamed and not reaching out for help. How to do we fight shame? By talking about it. The more we talk about it, the less power shame holds. (Channeling my inner Brene Brown here)
Through education, experience and speaking with individuals I have grown into the therapist that is now not only comfortable talking about suicide but also working with clients that are currently experiencing suicide or have a history of it. When someone voices suicide to me, my first reaction no longer is "oh shit" but rather " ok let's have a deeper conversation about this."
As friends and family, we can do better! As mental health professionals, we can do better! As a community, we can do better!