The Dos and Don’ts Technique
Review CD Track 4 for more information regarding this technique
1. Be aware. Learn the warning signs. I reviewed with Greg the warning signs from Track 2.
2. Get involved. Become available and show interest and support.
3. Ask specifically if your loved one is thinking about suicide. Use specifically words like ‘suicide,’ ‘die,’ or ‘kill’. Use a question like ‘Do you want to die?’ rather than ‘You’re not thinking of killing yourself, are you?’ Questions like this will offer your loved one a source of relief and set you up as a person willing to listen.
4. Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.
5. Be willing to listen. Allow expression of feelings and accept the feelings. Don’t tell him or her to feel better.
6. Be nonjudgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture of the value of life.
7. Don’t dare him or her to do it.
8. Don’t give advice by making decisions for someone else. Don’t tell her or him to behave differently.
9. Don’t ask why. That encourages defensiveness.
10. Offer empathy, not sympathy.
11. Don’t act shocked. That will put distance between you.
12. Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
13. Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance. It only proves you don’t understand.
14. Take action. Remove the means to commit suicide from the loved one’s environment.
The 5-Step Problem Solution Technique
Review CD Track 11 for more information regarding this technique
1. Encourage the teen to identify the problem. Ask the teen specifically, “What is the problem?”
2. Be sure to look at the alternatives, be creative with them. Ask the teen specifically, “What are your choices?” Be encouraging and practice passive listening.
3. Concentrate and try to anticipate the consequences of a choice. Encourage the teen to “think hard” and provide guidance mostly when indicates a choice that is dangerous. However, remain encouraging and accepting while the teen lists possible choices.
4. Select a response. Once the teen has listed possible choices, and their merits or detriments, specifically ask the teen to make a choice.
5. Analyze the choice. If the choice was a positive one, be sure that the teen learns to give himself or herself a pat on the back. Encourage comments such as, “I did great,” or “I really thought that out well!” If the choice was negative or potentially harmful, encourage the child to consider what would have been a better choice. Most important, encourage a pat on the back anyway, through encouraging such statements such as “I made a poor choice. But I’ll do better next time!”
Communication Guidelines Following a Suicide Attempt
Review CD Track 13 for more information regarding this technique
1. Do not tell the teenager how lucky he or she is to have what they have, what they have to look forward to, or how much he or she has hurt loved ones. These statements add to the guilt the teen is already feeling regarding his or her suicide attempt, which increases the teen client’s stress levels and increases risk for another suicide attempt.
2. Stay away from “why,” “you,” or “we” statements. These statements tend to put teenagers on the defensive and close down communication.
3. Voice your acceptance of the teen’s feelings. Remember that a suicide attempt is often the result of a perceived failure at verbal communication. Some teens attempt suicide as a way of behaviorally communicating the pain they felt they could not successfully communicate any other way.
4. Communicate accurately. Use active listening. Repeat important ideas from your conversations by repeating what you understand your teen to be saying.
5. Respond to the teenager in a calm, even tempered manner. Keep your rate of speech and volume at a conversational level. Try to use a calming tone. Keep eye contact comfortable, don’t avoid looking directly at the teenager. Try to stay close to the teenager with nothing between you, such as a chair or desk.