Episode 7 – 17th April 2023


What to say? What not to say? What to do?


“Many people believe that if you talk about suicide, you encourage it. That if you talk about it, it will happen. That’s a big myth and the data just doesn’t support it. You can’t ‘bring it on’ by talking about it. Talking about it is not going to make it worse, it only makes it better.”


Episode Keywords:

Suicide, Warning Signs, Safe Space, Conversation, Debunking Myths, Mindful Language, Support, Cultural Factors, Societal Factors, Suicide Rates, Mental Health, Misconceptions, Empathy, Professional Help, Self-Care, Traumatic Event, Inappropriate Responses, Direct Language, Safety Plan, Seeking Help



Episode Summary

In this powerful episode, we tackle the difficult but necessary topic of suicide, discussing the alarming statistics in Australia and addressing common misconceptions. We explore recognising warning signs, creating a safe space for conversation, and debunking myths surrounding suicide. We also discuss the importance of using mindful language and offering support, as well as examining the impact of cultural and societal factors on suicide rates. In the final part of the episode, I share ten valuable tips on how to talk about suicide and support someone struggling with suicidal thoughts. Remember, open and honest conversations can make a difference, and seeking help is crucial for both the person struggling and those supporting them. Join me in this crucial conversation and let’s work together to raise awareness and help prevent suicide.


Chapter Summaries

(0:00:11) – Talking About Suicide (10 Minutes)
In this episode, we tackle the difficult but necessary subject of suicide and how to talk about it. We discuss the alarming statistics surrounding suicide in Australia, particularly among men and First Nations people. We also address the misconceptions around mental health and suicide, and emphasize the importance of openly discussing this issue to raise awareness and help people feel less alone. By talking about suicide, we can work towards reducing its stigma and ultimately help prevent it. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out for support and connect with a helpline in your area.
(0:09:52) – Creating Safe Space (10 Minutes)
We dive into recognizing the warning signs of suicide, such as changes in behavior, mood swings, and feelings of hopelessness. Emphasizing the importance of creating a safe, non-judgmental space for open and honest conversation, we encourage listening with empathy and without interruption. Additionally, we discuss offering support by helping those at risk find professional resources, using mindful language when discussing suicide, and practicing self-care. We also address the role of mental health in suicide, debunking the myth that discussing suicide will encourage it, and the impact of cultural and societal factors on suicide rates’
(0:20:13) – Debunking Misconceptions About Suicide (8 Minutes)
We address several myths surrounding suicide, emphasizing the importance of having open conversations about the topic. Discussing suicide does not encourage people to attempt it; instead, it can provide support to those struggling. We also debunk the misconception that suicide only impacts certain groups of people and that those who attempt suicide are merely attention-seeking. Furthermore, we clarify that not all suicide attempts are caused by mental illness, nor do individuals who have attempted suicide always remain at risk for future attempts. Finally, we dispel the myth that suicide is always the result of a single traumatic event.
(0:28:40) – Inappropriate Responses to Suicidal Thoughts (14 Minutes)
We explore the common mistakes people make when talking to someone about their suicidal thoughts and feelings, such as saying “I know how you feel” or “other people have it worse” These statements can be belittling and unhelpful. Instead, we discuss various ways to approach the conversation directly, honestly, and with empathy, as well as how to handle a situation when someone reveals they have a plan for suicide. The importance of using clear, direct language and offering support and resources is emphasized, as well as recognizing that the conversation is not about you but about the person in need’
(0:42:53) – Ten Tips to Talk About Suicide (12 Minutes)
In this final part of the episode, we share ten tips on how to talk about suicide and support someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts. These tips include being direct, listening without judgment, taking them seriously, encouraging professional help, creating a safety plan, removing access to means of self-harm, checking in regularly, educating yourself about suicide, being patient and persistent, and taking care of yourself. Remember, open and honest conversations can make a difference, and seeking help is crucial for both the person struggling and those supporting them’
(0:54:47) – Seeking Support (1 Minutes)
In this conclusion, I express my gratitude for your support and encourage you to engage with me on social media or through my website. Remember, seeking help and support is crucial when dealing with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional or trusted support system. If you’re in Australia, call LifeLine at 13 11 14 – you don’t have to go through it alone’


The 10 Takeaway Tips This Week

1. Be direct and ask them if they are considering suicide.

2. Listen without judgement.

3. Take them seriously.

4. Encourage them to seek professional help..

5. Help them make a safety plan.

6. Remove access to means of self-harm.

7. Check-in regularly.

8. Educate yourself about suicide.

9. Be patient and persistent.

10. Take care of yourself.

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Episode Transcript

Good day, everyone. My name is Nick Bausch. Thank you for joining us for this episode. Episode number seven, indeed, reboot your thinking podcast. Today’s episode is a very difficult subject, a very necessary and important subject, and that is how to talk about suicide. So let me just say right from the start. If anything that I talk about today or whatever resonates with you, you don’t feel quite so good about or whatever, then please reach out to somebody and share that stuff with you, reach your office support. If you’re in Australia, I really encourage you to read life line on one three one one one four thirteen eleven fourteen. If you live in listening from outside of Australia, then please, you know, find a network or hotline or helpline that might be able to help you with those feelings. The reason I wanna talk about this today is comes up a lot in my in my therapy with people that they either have felt unsafe that they have felt suicidal or someone has expressed their suicidality to them or whatever it might be. And you know, a lot of people that I talk to just generally in my life, they just don’t know how to talk about this stuff. People are terrified about even just having the conversation about this stuff. Excuse me. So I think it’s important, an important topic, and it’s one that I wanna do with some sensitivity but also to be able to take some of the layers of shame and darkness away from it and really make it, you know, something that we can talk about openly and and honestly in in a transparent manner because then it takes some of the power away from it, you know. And and I think that’s important.
What I wanna start with is just just some of the stats, the current stats Now these are Australian stats, but, you know, you can extrapolate that to wherever you’re listening most probably and find your own local stats in Australia, we do have a problem with suicide. And in particular, we have a problem with male suicide. And in particular, First Nation suicide. So those are the things we’re gonna talk about today, but the stats are pretty, well, alarming, really. This these stats come from the Australian bureau statistics statistics data. The data was taken in twenty twenty one, but shared in and distributed in twenty two. So it’s fairly recent. Excuse me.
Over ten million Australian adults are estimated to know someone who has died by suicide. Lot of people. Right? One in two young people who are impacted by the suicide by suicide by the time they turn twenty five in Australia. And currently, we’re losing about eight or nine people a day to suicide. It was the when these states were released, it was the fifteenth leading cause of death overall. Which accounts for about two percent of adults dying in Australia die from suicide. Three thousand Australians die by suicide in a year, which represented certain age standardized suicide death rate of one in ten thousand people. Over the previous ten years, though, that’s increasing. And it’s increasing at about seven percent year on year, which is far too many.
Young Australians especially are susceptible and have been touched more disproportionately than others by suicide. It’s the most common cause of death. For young people aged between fifteen and twenty four. If you’re a man in Australia, the most the leading cause of death for you aged between fifteen and forty four is suicide. The most likely way you are to die as a young man in Australia is by suicide. Which is terrible. And hopefully present prevent preventable, you know. So the stuff that we can work on the stats around men is is particularly damning. They’re around three times more likely to die by suicide than females are They account for about seventy five percent of deaths by suicide. In this country, men aged fifty to fifty four are particularly impacted also with with nine percent of suicides of males all coming from that age group, my age group, fifty to fifty four. They had the highest rates of those under eighty years anyway. So That’s quite a lot. And and keep in mind too that a lot of suicide deaths in Australia and globally misreported, unreported, not reported. You know, reported is being something else because of lots of different reasons. So these numbers are conservative at best, and that makes it even even worse.
In Australia, First Nations people in Australia, people of aboriginal or torres strait islander descent are double the numbers. They’re they’re twice as likely to die from suicide as their own age in people who aren’t from the First Nations. That is incredible and disturbing, amazingly disturbing. The other thing about the First Nations staff, so the the median age, so the middle age of people who die from suicide in Australia is around fifty, but forty five fifty, but in first nations that median age is thirty. So a lot more younger first nations people are dying from suicide than than non First Nations people, which is pretty terrible as well. Northern territory on understandably has the highest rate of suicide per regional per state in this country probably because of the disproportionate amount of First Nations people live there. But regional areas are almost double. That of urban areas for suicide in in Australia as well, which is pretty sad.
The proportion of suicide deaths recording at least one risk factor was ninety percent. So people the risk factors are psychosocial risk factors. They’re the most commonly reported risk factors for people who die from suicide. The three most frequently occurring psychosocial risk factors are problems in a relationship with a spouse or a partner. Personal history of self harm or disruption to family by separation or divorce. So Generally, the majority of people who die from suicide had at least one of those risk factors, some have all three. And mental health, the mental disorders, mental and behavioral disorders, are present in only about sixty percent of people who die from suicide.
So one of the great mess is that everybody who die from suicide has a mental illness, that’s not true. It’s patently untrue. Forty percent of people who die from suicide do not have any mental disorder. They don’t have a chronic illness. They don’t have something they’ve lived with for years and years. It’s it’s an ad hoc decision. It’s a sometimes a very permanent decision, permanent outcome taken over a very temporary decision, and that’s that’s, yeah, that’s damaging. So how many other stats in Australia? Sixty five percent sixty five thousand, sorry, sixty five thousand suicide attempts happen each year. As I mentioned before, three thousand people die, sixty five thousand people try to die each year in Australia. And it’s been estimated that more than half a million Australians have attempted suicide at some time in their life. That’s a lot of people.
So in talking about that stuff today, I wanna I wanna touch on a few different topics, and I wanna touch on a few things that might be kind of difficult to hear and and certainly seem to be difficult to talk about. So the first thing that I wanna mention or wanna talk about is understanding the importance of talking about suicide. Right? So many people believe that if you talk about suicide, you encourage it. Right? If you talk about it, it will happen, but in reality discussing suicide can actually prevent it. It’s a big myth that you don’t wanna talk about it because then you’re gonna give someone the idea the idea to do it. Believe me, in my line of work, I talk about this a lot, and people either have the idea or they don’t ask talking about it. You’re asking somebody if they’re okay, doesn’t make it worse. By openly talking about suicide, you can raise awareness about the issue and help people feel less alone, you know, if they are going through that stuff. So that’s the first thing. And the really important thing is you can’t bring it on by talking about it. Talking about it. It’s not gonna make it worse. It only makes it better. Right?
Next thing then is is how to recognize the warning signs in someone. Right? It’s crucial to know the warning sign of suicide so that you can identify when somebody may be at risk. And and these sort of warning signs include changes in behavior, mood swings, giving away things, giving away possessions, and expressing kind of a feeling of hopelessness or despair. A lot of people say things like, what’s the point? There is no point I can’t be bothered. There’s, you know, it’s futile going on. This is all waste of time. Things like that tend to be a red flag. For this stuff. So it’s really important that we create a safe space for discussion around this stuff.
When when talking about suicides, important to create a safe and non judgmental space for people to share their thoughts and feelings. Right? Encourage open and honest conversation and and and then listen without judgment or interruption. We so often want to jump in and fix things, you know, make it better. When someone says they’re they’re struggling and they’re going through something at the moment. But this is not the time, guys. It’s really not the time. This is the time to sit, shut up, and listen and listen with empathy and without judgment as much as you can. Right? And then offering support. So If someone expresses thoughts of suicide, it’s it’s important to offer support and help them find professional resources, whatever that is right for for them and in in local air and their age group and all of that. Right? So it might mean reaching out to a crisis hotline like lifeline on thirteen, eleven, fourteen, it might mean seeking therapy, with a therapist, it might be visiting a GP and getting a mental health care plan. Mental treatment plan. There’s there’s lots of different resources available to people, but they have to first be able to be feel like they’re in a safe space where they can share this stuff with you without being judged or mocked or, you know, not listened to or lecture that. Or whatever.
One of the biggest things I wanna I wanna sort of talk about today is is that language matters I talk a lot about how words have power. And in this topic, especially, it’s it’s especially true. Right? So I’d really support you to be mindful of the language you use when when discussing suicide. Alright. Avoid if you can using stigmatizing or judgmental language. Right?
Things like committing suicide. That’s that is a really judgey really sort of blame packed phrase, and we’ll talk more about the words in a sec. But try to think maybe instead using more neutral language such as die by suicide. So, you know, I’ll say when I I’m sort of really mindful of this stuff. So I try to say, you know, that somebody died from suicide or died of suicide or died of suicide or died by suicide. Rather than even, you know, that they committed suicide. I certainly wouldn’t try to not say that, but even not saying, you know, that they killed themselves. Like, that’s that’s even victim blaming to a point. So, you know, those words have power and we’ll talk more about that in a sec.
And then throughout all of this, I really want you to keep this in mind too that it’s really important to take care of yourself. So even when discussing suicide, it can be really emotionally challenging. So it’s important to take care of yourself. Even when you’re listening to this today and and what you do after you listen to this today, you know, just make sure that practice self care and seek support from France and fairly friends and family and and therapists if you need that, whatever. Right? Remember discussing suicide, can be difficult, but it’s a crucial conversation to have by by raising awareness and offering support We can help prevent suicide and support those who might be struggling. We can make a difference to this stuff.
I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in real life. Right? I’ve I’ve seen it firsthand. Okay? You know, to to be able to create that space and understand the role of mental health. Right? So suicides often linked to mental health issues like depression and anxiety, depression especially. But it’s really important to understand that the relationship between mental health and so and encourage people to seek help if they’re struggling, but also just to know that, as I said before, only sixty percent of people who die from suicide. Are are living with mental illness at the time or have ever lived with mental illness. So it’s a real sort of furfy that people go, oh, if you’re depressed, then, you know, suicide is is sort of down the track for you. That’s just not true. You know, we can we can talk about preventing suicide as is not this sort of far away, big ideal thing that is impossible. Because, you know, It’s not. It’s it’s something that is very attainable. Very attainable. We’ve we’ve shown that we’ve we can talk about it more and more these days and we’ve got to keep going.
Sulfide prevention involves take you know, taking steps to reduce the risk of suicide, like promoting mental health awareness. Increasing access to these resources, reducing the stigma about accessing these resources. You know, talking about suicide prevention can help encourage people to take action and get involved. You know, the the r u a k stuff in this country has started off as a very small idea. It’s not a very mainstream idea. And it’s all just about really just starting a conversation, a crucial but difficult conversation. Right? Talking about suicide could be really uncomfortable and it can be really emotional, but it’s important to have these conversations if someone is at risk. You know, being able to offer empathy and support and and even minimizing their feelings or offering simple solutions is a very simple very generous and kind and loving thing to do. Right?
Sometimes we might be faced with this topic when we’re supporting loved ones. It might be a loved one who expresses this ideation or these ideas. And if someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, it’s really important to offer them support, but also help them find those resources that that might help going forward. You know, encourage them to seek professional help offer to even go with them, accompanying them through appointments, or would just be a listening ear, you know, a lot of a lot of times, I think, you know, when people said to me, that their friend Pete told them that they were suicidal and they didn’t know what to do and and whatever.
And I think sometimes if you’ve just got the space. If you create the space enough for Pete to tell you, then he trusts you. Right? He loves you. Or at least he thinks that you’re not gonna judge him and that you’re going to provide some solutions. So maybe that’s the time where you call lifeline with Pete next to you on on speaker. Start the conversation. Then give the phone to him and give him some space to be able to tell them. Whatever it might be. Right? It’s if someone has told you this stuff, and this is a really important point. If somebody shares this suicidality with you, then they really do feel like you’re somebody who can handle it. There’s somebody who they have chosen to be a supporter and now live there. And it’s that that should make it less scary in some ways. Of course, it doesn’t, you know, just count out how value and how responsibility in this. But sometimes I think when people say to me, oh, and then he said that he was gonna that he was gonna try to die by suicide. And why did he tell me? And and I often think, well, because he trusts you. Because you’re somebody who he can find that space in, you know.
So, you know, it comes back to impact, of course, and and soccer can have profound impact on people and on communities, particularly rural communities and remote communities, regional communities. It’s really important to address this impact in in conversations about suicide too, you know, discuss the effect of suicide on loved ones. And ways to cope with grief and loss. Without blaming them, without without shaming anyone, without making them the problem, whatever. Right? It’s it’s you can do both. Right? And then and I think It all comes back to, like, so many things on this podcast and in my work and in my life, it comes back to the importance of self care. Taking care of your own mental health is really important. When does gusting suicide with someone else. Encouraging you know, I wanna encourage you to practice self care, manage your own stress, Maintain your emotional well-being. All of these things are really important if you’re the one who fortunately or unfortunately has been chosen as the one that somebody else’s has explored their suicidal thoughts with. So, you know, that’s that’s all sort of this to set up, I guess, of of these things.
But there’s there’s many reasons why people choose to die from suicide. There’s many sort of cultural context. There’s more there’s many societal factors involved here. You know, suicide rates vary across different cultures, different societies. It’s important to an under law to examine the underlying factors that contribute to this. Discussing, you know, cultural and societal factors with someone who’s telling you this stuff can really help raise awareness and outside of this this the person who’s telling you this and reduce the stigma surrounding suicide.
Some of us some of you guys listening will be representative of a community that doesn’t talk about this stuff. It doesn’t talk about anything. Right? It doesn’t talk about any difficult stuff. And and you might that might be the family that you grew up in, right, where you really discouraged from talking about stuff that matters. And so that makes it difficult to then go forward and still be somebody who can talk about this stuff easily.
One of the big biggest things that hold us back in this too is is this so many myths there’s so many sort of misconceptions around suicide. Right? So like I said, like about the, you know, that people believe that if you talk about it, it’ll encourage someone to do it. It’s just not true. It’s just not true. Right? So addressing the myths and the misconceptions are a good place to to delve into us to take a little sidetracking too. So I’m gonna I’m gonna take that sidetracking now.
So one of the miss let’s talk about a few admit a few of the myths. So one of the miss they’re talking about societally encourage people to do it. There is millions of data points that say that that is that that is not true. And and it actually comes from our own fear and our own kind of sense of shame that we don’t wanna have that conversation. So we say, look, well, I won’t talk about it because I don’t wanna be the one who encourages him to do it. Trust me.
If someone’s talking about it or if someone’s thinking about it and you bring it up, and ask them, are you thinking about dying from suicide? Are you thinking about hurting yourself? Are you thinking about suicide? That is not going to then go make them think, oh, I’m gonna do it then. Like it’s it just if if anything, it works the other way. So that’s the first myth. Right?
Secondly, there’s a there’s a bit of a myth that suicide only affects certain types of people, people who have certain thought patterns, people who come from certain socioeconomic backgrounds, people who are in certain sort of relationships, but it’s not true the data doesn’t support that suicide can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race. Socioeconomic status, relationship status, where they are, where they live in the world. Like, it it’s just it’s just far more complex than that. So, yeah, that’s that’s another myth. Another myth then is that people who attempt suicide are just seeking attention. They’re just attention seeking Right? And it’s true that suicide attempts are often a cry for help. Right? But they should be taken seriously. And I think there’s a big difference between attention seeking and attention needing. And Those two things aren’t the same thing. And people who talk about suicide or people who attempt to die by suicide, are seeking attention in some ways, but it’s attention they’re not getting and it’s attention that they really need. So, you know, a little bit of kindness and a little bit of empathy goes a long way there, I think.
Another myth that it’s always caused by mental illness. I said before sixty percent is, forty percent is not. So, you know, while mental illness can be a risk factor, there are often multiple factors involved, including things like social, cultural, environmental factors, lots of different reasons. For that, that they have nothing to do with whether somebody’s living with mental illness or not. Another myth, once someone has made a suicide attempt, they’ll be that will always be at risk for future attempts. Right? If you’ve tried it once and you didn’t die from diverse suicide, you’ll definitely try it again. That’s a myth. It’s not true. The data doesn’t support it. While individuals who have attempted suicide may be at a higher risk. Right? It’s a bit bit they’re at a high risk because they were at a risk the first time, not because they have attempted suicide before.
It’s possible to recover and prevent future attempts. I know a lot of people. A lot of people both professionally and personally who have attempted suicide before and are very, very unlikely to ever try it again. So it’s it’s not true that one, you know, once you try that you just keep trying until we succeed, it’s it’s just not true. And then I think the other the other myth also, which is important one, is that suicide is always the result of a single kinda traumatic event that something they’ve had a bad breakup. They’ve had a bad and whatever. Right? And and people think, well, it’s because of that. And because of that one single event they’re going to die by suicide or they’re going to try to. But It’s just not true. Suricized off from the result of a complex networking or complex interplay of factors. And may not be a triplet or a attributable to a attributable to a single event or a cause. It’s just yeah. It’s just not true. So addressing these sort of myths and misconceptions can help reduce the stigma and promote understanding of suicide and and suicide prevention.
There’s other things we can do. We can we can offer resources, you know. Do you know where to find these resources for suicide prevention? Do you know where to find mental health support. Can you could you tell someone else who needed you to tell them in that at that time where these things were? You know? Do you know that if you’re in Australia, you can ring Lifeline twenty four seven on on thirteen eleven fourteen? There’s others too, but that’s that’s the that’s the main one that I talk about because it’s the main one that suits the majority of my of my clients. This your top line. There’s beyond blue. There’s black doggings too. There’s a whole lot of support out there if somebody just wants to reach out. And I’d encourage you as a citizen of Earth to have one of those numbers pretty well memorized. And if it’s lifelong on thirteen, eleven fourteen, if you’re in Australia, then great. If you’re outside that, think of one that, you know, might occur to you just so that if you’re ever in a situation where someone does share their suicidal ideation, we you are able to say, hey, why don’t we call these guys or why don’t you call these guys and get some support, you know? Being able to know where to get these resources is is really important.
Different perspectives about suicide is important too. I mentioned briefly before about, you know, different racial racial stuff, different cultural stuff around suicide. SUSAN is a really complex issue. It it can be helped. It can be helpful to explore different perspectives. About suicide. So, you know, maybe speaking to somebody who has tried to die by suicide before, speak to family members of those who have died. By suicide, speak to mental health professionals like me, speak to suicide prevention advocates like me, and being able to really just get different perspectives on on what that means to people, you know, what it’s meant to somebody, what it’s what it’s done to someone’s life, what it’s might have saved someone’s life for that matter. You know, exploring these kind of different perspectives on suicide can help us better understand. The many complex factors that contributed to it, right, can provide valuable insights into strategies that are effective in prevention and support of this stuff, you know. Understanding the differences real differences are really, really important in those racial or cultural pockets where it’s not spoken about, you know, the importance of community support is even greater. So subprevention isn’t isn’t just the responsibility of mental health professionals, but it’s all of our responsibilities, the entire community’s responsibility, you know. So think about ways that people and communities can come together to support those who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts. Being able to get through this stuff is you know, is really important.
So let’s talk about the words. Let’s talk about the things people say and and and I hear these things a lot. I hear it in my work. And I hear it just, you know, being a human. And I and I I would really strongly encourage you to think about not saying these things. If somebody says to you, you know, that they that they’re feeling terrible. If someone says they wanna die, if someone says if someone talks about their suicide, their plan or their ideation or their behavior to you, I’d really support you not to say these. Few things we’re gonna talk about now. Okay?
So the first one is when someone says, look, it’s not that bad or stay positive or don’t say that. You know, where I hear that a lot and people said, don’t say that. Right? Belittling or invalidating a person’s feelings, it is not helping them saying it’s not that bad. It is that bad. Right? In their reality, it is that bad. In fact, their ability to verbally express their feelings out loud is a big step in the right direction. So when we say don’t say that or It’s not that bad or be positive or whatever. We’re just not honoring where they are. We’re just not thanking them for being able to share that stuff with us. You know? I think we should feel honored that they chose to open up to us and then and then ask us to help them through their tough situation. So please try not to discount that or or shut it down and extinguish it straight away.
Number two is I know how you feel or I would be devastated if you were gone. Right? Shocking victim blaming there, but I know how you feel is is a big one that people say, oh, I know how you feel. I’ve been sad a few times too, you know. It’s impossible to know how someone else feels. And insinuating that you do can be really frustrating and really belittling. And there’s no way you know how they feel. There’s no way. Right? Even if you’ve been through exactly the same situation, we’re also different you’re not feeling the same as them. You don’t know how they feel. Right? These these sort of statements make the conversation about you. And it should be about them. Right? Try to resist the urge. They’re very human and very normal and natural urge. To make the conversation about you. It’s not about you.
Third one then is when people say, but you have so much to live for. Right? When a person is severely depressed to the point where they’re thinking about ending their life, they’re not in the mindset of counting their blessings. They can’t see positives. Right? So it’s just a lighter than when you say that. Pointing that out, pointing out that they have a lot to live for doesn’t help them because they can’t see that. They can’t grasp that as reality. So, yeah, it’s really confusing thing to say to someone who’s really severely depressed, and you’re never gonna you’re never gonna convince them about that. In that moment. So these these are the better things that we can do than that.
The fourth one is when people say, look, other people have it worse or you know, everybody’s got something going on or someone might say, are you just being selfish? Right? I hear this a lot that suicide’s really selfish. This isn’t a contest where somebody deserves the right to be depressed. You know, you don’t you don’t have to win. When a when a person is struggling, what is what is more important to them is helping them with their reality, not comparing it to others. You know, other people might have it worse. But when you’re in that moment where you are suicidal, and your level of mood is such that you could die and you wouldn’t care. You don’t care whether you’re gonna win the contest of of whether you’re the sickest or the saddest or the most depressed or anything else. Right? You just take care. So if you’re taking that route, you’re wasting your time in talking to someone that way.
Sometimes I’ve heard people say, look, I told him that he’d go to hell if he killed himself. Right? Even if your religion holds this belief, Keep in mind that many people may not share your beliefs. Nor is it a helpful deterrent to someone who’s in crisis? Because Someone will invariably say, I’m already in hell. Right? I can’t get any worse than this. I’m thinking about doing. It cannot get any worse than this. So for you to thrust some religious dogmeat at the mat at the mat that time is extremely extremely unhelpful.
Sometimes people say, you don’t really mean that. Right? Now, this can come across as dismissive, obviously, and invalidating the person’s feelings. They absolutely do mean that. Or they’re at least saying it in in in a in a way that’s going to start a conversation that they really need to have. So saying that someone doesn’t mean what they’re saying is is kind of belittling. Right?
Just being positive, I hear this a lot in terms of mental health, especially in depression when people say they they have depression and and their partners or their friends or their mom or someone says, just think positive. Right? Just this just inject some more positive toxicity toxic positivity in our lives. Right? This this can come across as really dismissive and suggest that the person struggles are solely due to their mindset. You’re just not being positive. If you were being positive, then you wouldn’t have depression. If you were being positive, then you wouldn’t be wanting to die. That’s that’s, you know, I wish it was that easy that we could just flick the switch and a positive switch would be on and then would be fine. It it also brings up for me that when I know a lot of people who live with mental illness, but when they’re with certain people in their lives, they are extremely positive. You know, they are sort of unbelievably happy and positive and whatever, and it’s just all an act and it’s exhausting. Because that they know that that person has told them that they’re not allowed to have true feelings. They’re not allowed to have sadness. So they instead just be really really happy. Right? See Robin Williams for an example.
Another thing people say is you’re not thinking about the people who care for you. You know, this can increase feelings of guilt and it may not be helpful. Anyway in preventing the suicide. But it it’s victim blaming. It makes if somebody who’s already drowning in shame and guilt just a little bit more wet. Then I think sometimes people say or like that. I think sometimes people say I made him promise me that he wouldn’t do anything, although I’ll say to someone who’s expressing these thoughts, promise me you won’t do anything. Right? Now, I can almost guarantee you that anybody who makes you that promise at that time is lying. There’s promise me you won’t ever hurt yourself. Promise me you won’t ever die from suicide is unrealistic. For a start. It’s not effective in preventing suicide. It’s not effective in enduring yourself with that person. It’s again making it about you. It’s not about you. And making someone promised to do something different when they’ve when they’re still tossing out whether to do something in the first place is is really shame inducing and it’s really unhelpful. Right?
Another thing people say and what I just wanna talk quickly about the words. Right? So people talk about committing suicide and someone’s or or, you know, someone is committing suicide or has committed suicide or he’s talking about committing suicide. Now this that phrase, it harks back to a time when, yeah, suicide was illegal and it was a crime. So you commit suicide. You were committing a crime. Now that, obviously, that is okay and stupid. And and for a long time, it hasn’t been part it hasn’t been a crime. But it’s still part of our vernacular and I’d really wanna say it gone. I really do. You know, being able to say that somebody died by suicide, that somebody ended their life even. I don’t love that, but maybe that’s that’s still better. But yeah, I’d really love everyone to stop saying committed suicide for a start.
The other thing I think that that sort of gets undermined. Skinnabit is when people talk about a successful suicide attempt. There’s very little that’s successful. In that situation. Somebody might have managed to die by suicide, but attributing success to it is weird and kind of yuck. So think about just going forward, just think about how you speak about this stuff.
You know, think about the words you use because Words have power. So what do we say? What do we say? Alright? If you’re if you’re concerned that somebody you know, maybe at risk for suicide. It’s really important that we ask them directly if if they are thinking about suicide. And so here’s here’s a couple of ways that that I do it. Right? Because obviously, I’m talking to people when they’re in crisis quite a bit. I’m talking to people about some very deep and dark pockets of trauma in their life. You know, people do express their sort of suicidal thoughts to me, sometimes in code. And sort of cryptically and sometimes quite frankly.
But these are these are examples of some of the sentences that I that I might use. Right? So I’d say, look, I’m really concerned about you. Have you been thinking about suicide? Right? It’s pretty straightforward. Or I might say, seems like you’ve been struggling lately, you know. Have you been thinking about hurting yourself? Or I just wanna check-in with you and see how you’re doing. Like, have you had any thoughts of suicide? Or care about you, and I wanna make sure you’re okay. Right? Have you been thinking about, you know, taking your own life and in your own life? Or I’m here for you and I wanna help. Have you been thinking about suicide?
Or one of the things one of the ones that I that I used quite a bit particularly in a therapeutic situation, someone will tell me something and they’ll say things cryptically that I always kind of know what we’re talking about and And I’ll say to them, sometimes when people say that, they’re talking about suicide. Is is that what we’re talking about? Right? And people will go, oh, no. No. It’s not. Or or people will. I don’t know. Maybe.
And And then I think the next part of that is if the answer is yes to any of those questions, what do we do then? Right? If you say Look, sometimes when people talk about that stuff, we’re talking about suicide. Are we talking about suicide? Are you thinking about suicide? And someone will say, yes, I am. The next thing to say is, oh, okay. Do have you planned it? Do you have a plan? Do you know how you’re gonna do it? And often that will stop the conversation where it is because people go, no, I I I I I I I I haven’t really thought that far ahead, you know, or I’m just I’m just sad or whatever. And that might be true and it might not. And depending on how good your communication skills are, you might probably get through that.
But if somebody has is talking about suicide, and you’ve established that that’s what you’re talking about. And they have a plan, then that’s a different situation, and that’s, you know, obviously, a more pressing situation. If somebody can say to me, yeah, I’m and I’m, you know, at the risk of treating anyone, I’m not gonna share suicidal behavior here, but they might tell me exactly how they they know they’re going to do it. And then I just try to remove means of that happening through for the start, you know, again, offer resources, get them to talk to the right people whatever, how you deal with it, and how you deal with it would be very different than that, and it should be with different people. But being able to establish first we’re talking about. And then second, if if you know how you’re gonna do it, is a very good way of working out where someone is in this sort of spectrum in someone in this sort of timeline of them doing it or or not doing it. Right?
When asking about suicide, it’s important to do so in a direct and non judgment not judgmental way. Right? Avoid using this vague language like You’re not thinking of doing anything stupid, are you? Well, don’t do anything silly. Like, those things are really shaming as well as just being a weird, toddler way to us, someone something. Like, Talk to them like a grown up if they are grown up, that is. You know, use use clear and direct language because clear and direct language conveys your concern. It conveys your support and your love as well. But using euphemisms and ways of saying things where that say things is just kind of immature. And it’s just a way for you to preserve your own self, you know, and and and and make sure you’re not covered in fear as well. And that’s not good enough. It’s not about you.
If the person does express thoughts of suicide, then it’s important to stay calm. Offer empathy and support. Let them know that you care about them. Let them know that they’re not alone. You know, encourage them to to seek help in in the resources that you’ve got. Now is your in your toolkit and offer to assist them in finding more resources or making appointments or making a phone call if you need to or or whatever it might be that that will help at that time.
It’s really important though that we have the conversation out loud that we have it clear and concisely that we don’t do it with any euphemisms or cryptic language that we speak to them like adults if they are adults. And that they understand and that they they feel your love and support and concern that that’s conveyed properly. They’ve chosen you. Right? And they’ve chosen you for a reason. I think that’s a great thing that we have to honor as much as we can. Alright.
So let’s let’s finish today’s episode on how to talk about suicide with ten tips that you can take away this week. Now you might be listening to this because you are in fact dealing with somebody in your life who is societal right now, having suicidal thoughts or exhibiting suicidal behaviors. And if that’s the case firstly, I’m sorry that that’s going on for both of you, But secondly okay. Let’s let’s talk about how to talk about it. Let’s let’s put some actual things in place that you can take away from today and put in place so that you’re not just wandering around worrying and being fearful and scared. Right?
Number one, be direct. Ask them if they’re considering suicide. You know, sometimes when people say the stuff you’re saying, they’re talking about suicide. Are you talking about suicide? Really direct and really honest way of saying it. It’s important to have that direct and honest conversation as this can open up the possibility of seeking help, getting support. Right? Starting the conversation. Are you okay? That’s how that the whole day was built on just starting the conversation. So it’s clear, honest, concise, and direct. Right? Number two, listen without judgment. Give give the person your full attention. Let them share their thoughts and feelings without you interrupting them, without you judging them, without you making it about you. Right? In that moment, it’s about them. In that moment, they they’re drawing on some pretty tough stuff to be able to say it out loud to you. So it really support you on to support you to honor that as much as you can.
Number three, take them seriously. If someone’s talking about suicide, it’s important to take them seriously, seek help immediately. There’s a bit of a myth that it wasn’t one that I covered before that people who talk about suicide don’t do it. That’s not true. If somebody’s talking about it, it’s important that we take them seriously and go through these these these steps, you know, that we’ve talked about today. There’s a big difference between attention seeking and attention needing. Right? Number four, encourage them to seek professional help. Obviously, offer support and encouragement for them to seek professional help, be it through a helpline, be it through the GP, through a psychologist, through a therapist, wherever it might be. But if sometimes I know for a fact that sometimes people just need a little encouragement to be able to take the first step to get some help. A lot of people don’t know where to get that help, obviously, too. And that’s why I hope lines are really good. Hotline, like, lifeline, like the Oregon. Beyond blue because they can actually make referrals as well and set you set you up with a bit of a a plan going forward. So that’s really important.
Number five, help them make a safety plan. So this one is like working together with the person to create a safety plan which can include steps that they take when they’re feeling overwhelmed or suicidal. It might be that they call you, that they call someone else, that they they change your location, that they call an ambulance if they have to, that they ring lifeline, that they whatever it might be. Whatever is the right thing for them to be part of their safety plan. Is a really positive step forward. And I’d really encourage you actually to make it as formal as you can. You know, to to get them to sign it and you sign it to it. Now, what you’re doing importantly isn’t making them promise they’re not gonna do it. But it’s making them promise that if they feel these things, then this is the steps they’ll take. These are their steps not yours. Right? So what you’re saying is when you feel this way, this is what you do. This is your safety plan. This is your safety plan. You’ve come up with this, not me. These are the things that you wanted to do. So, you know, I think that’s that’s not unreasonable thing to expect someone to then go, okay. Well, I’ve made this safety plan with him. What was in it again because I’m feeling a bit crap. Right?
Number six, remove access to means of self harm. If someone’s in an immediate risk of harm, they say, yep, I’m suicidal, and I’ve got a plan. The plan includes these tools, whatever the tools they might be gonna use than than remove any means of self harm or access to those tools. Access to weapons, apps access to medications. Access to anything that might potentially harm them. You know, for people living the bush and regional areas, often there’s access to firearms on a farm or whatever, you know, maybe maybe that’s a consideration is is removing ammunition from them. You know, whatever the case may be for each individual sort of situation, removing the means just slows them down. If anything else, if nothing else, I mean, it’s just a way to to buy yourself some time, to buy them, some time, to go to enact their safety plan, and to do the things that they agree that they would should they feel this way again in the future.
Number seven, check-in regularly. Right? There’s no such thing as too regular really. Follow follow-up with the person regularly and and offer that ongoing support and the ongoing encouragement. You know, without going over and over it all the time just that they know somebody is there and and caring for them and caring enough that you call the next day. That you call a couple of days later, that you arrange to meet them on Thursday night to have a coffee or a drink or see a movie or something. Right? That that diarizing of future time actually has been shown through journals and through sort of evidence based research to reduce the the likelihood and the the existence of suicidal thoughts. So diarizing time is a really good way of being able to distract someone after go. Okay? So as they know, I gotta go to the movies, so I can’t do before then. So that this gives you another sort of a few days for them to enact their plan and for you to enact their safety plan that is, and a few more days for you to be able to offer sources and offer them such support and and love.
Number eight, educate yourself about suicide. You know, learn about the warning signs. Listen to podcasts like this. Find out about risk factors. The resources for support. Have one of those in your phone all the time. So that you can offer informed and helpful support. Have one on fridge you know, fridge magnet or or something stuck on the fridge so that everybody who passes through your your your kitchen not only sees lifeline’s number on there, but also knows that this is a safe place if they ever need, you know.
In Australia, we’ve got a thing called neighborhood watch, which have started when I was kid in. Used to put thing like, a little yellow thing on your litter box out the front of it meant, you know, and you were told we were told at school. Like, if ever if some stranger was chasing you, which, you know, I grew up thinking there was gonna be strangers all over the place chasing me. Anyway, you’re much more as as we all know now, the stranger strange strange is not the danger. But anyway, but you knew that if there was a house with this on the litter box, you you could go in there and and, you know, speak to someone about keeping you safe, which just seems crazy to me today, but anyway. But, you know, knowing if somebody is walking through your fridge all the time and they see, paraffinality from lifeline. I see lifeline’s number just magnated on your fridge. That they see and here’s that you’re somebody who talks about this stuff regularly, they’re going to think that you’re a safe space for them to talk about it themselves. And there’s nothing more beneficial than that.
Number nine, be patient and be persistent. So recovery from suicidal thoughts or feelings takes time. So be patient, right, with people, be present, be persistent in your support of them. They’re not you know, there’s there’s a saying in in rehab and mental health services services that, you know, you didn’t get sick overnight. So you’re unlikely to get well overnight. Either. And and it’s very true about suicidal thoughts and and the recovery from those things. So be persistent, but also be patient, be empathetic, understand what someone’s going through. And then number ten is the most important one, and it’s to take care of yourself. Right? Supporting someone who’s struggling with thoughts of suicide can be emotionally challenging, right, to say the least. So make sure to take care of your own mental health and seek support if you need to as well.
These things are hard. It’s a hard topic. It’s a hard conversation. It’s a hard reality that this is, you know, something that’s getting worse in this country, not better. And particularly for particularly groups of for particular groups of people in this country, it’s getting worse, not better. And and that’s a hard thing to talk about, but talking about it doesn’t make it worse, it makes it better. Talking about it means more people have these tools, more people understand what they can do, more people understand that they can help that they can talk about it out loud, that you can ask someone straight out, that you know now, that you have a few tools in your toolkit to be able to do that.
I would love your feedback on this or any questions you have going forward about this topic. Again, I just wanna reiterate that if anything we’ve talked about tonight. Today, tonight it’s tonight here. You know, resonates with you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, please reach out to somebody else. If you’re in Australia, please ring a lifeline in on thirteen eleven fourteen. One three one one one four. And you will be able to get help twenty four seven. But either way, whether you are somebody who has had these thoughts, might have these thoughts the future or somebody who has is living with somebody who does. An open direct, concise, clear, frank conversation never hurt anybody.
I really hope you go forward from this today and be able to to help somebody else potentially, but certainly to be able to help yourself. And, you know, I and plenty of other therapists like me are around if you need some help and support and you wanna work through some stuff that’s making you feel sad to the point where you want to die, then we can work on that. You can work on that. And, you know, You absolutely deserve that. You deserve that attention. You deserve that love we all do. So go forward from today see see see see the light where it is. See the darkness where it is too because then we don’t know where the light is, but keep moving forward and trying to be the very best version of ourselves we can be every day. And I’ll talk to you soon. And Thank you for listening to this episode of Gabriella, your thinking podcast.
I really appreciate your support and I am stoked to have you as part of my audience on here. If you like what I’m doing here, please think about leaving a comment or giving me a five star view on whatever you are listening to me on. It really helps, and I’ll be really grateful. And follow me, I am Anthony Badich across all the socials or you can visit my website at w w w dot nickvoutage dot com. Send me a voice message or any questions you would like to answer, and you could be featured in the upcoming episode. This track is good person by the hot springs, incidental music, also supplied by sold pro music. And please remember, it’s okay to seek help and support. If anything I’ve talked about today has resonated with you or brought up any sounds, please reach out to a mental, professional, or a trusted support system. If you’re in Australia, please call LifeLine. On thirteen, eleven fourteen, you don’t have to go through it.