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On this track, we will discuss six reasons why a teenager may attempt or commit suicide. We will also discuss the Healing Self Statements technique.
Ruth, 46, entered counseling after her daughter, Marlene, committed suicide at the age of 17. Ruth stated, "I knew Marlene had been a little out of sorts for a while, but I didn’t think it was anything serious. Marlene had a good life, she even said she was happy! Why would she kill herself?"
As you have experienced, the first question the loved ones of a teen who has committed suicide usually ask is "why." Although each case is certainly different, I have found that sharing some common reasons why with clients like Ruth can help them begin to understand the event, which can be crucial in helping loved ones deal with potential feelings of guilt and responsibility.
6 Reasons Why a Teenager may Attempt or Commit Suicide
-- 2. To Escape
-- 3. To Show how much they Loved Someone
-- 4. To Make things Easier for Others
-- 5. To Make People Sorry
-- 6. A Loss of Control
Healing Self Statements Technique
-- Step #1 - The first step in the healing self statements technique involves looking at the teenager’s suicide and the surrounding circumstances in a neutral, non self blaming way. I stated to Ruth, "The healing self statements technique puts what you did, felt, or thought in the context of the real options that were available to you at the time." I asked Ruth to start her self healing statement by using the starter phrases, ‘I feel guilty about…’ and ‘but it wasn’t my fault that…’"
Ruth’s self healing statement was, "I feel guilty when I see Marlene’s room, because it reminds me of how I wasn’t able to help her. But it wasn’t my fault that Marlene committed suicide. It’s not my fault that I wasn’t superhuman, all-knowing, or all-powerful. I did the best I could under very difficult circumstances."
-- Step #2 - The second step in the healing self statements technique with Ruth was to help her craft a statement that acknowledged the guilt, shame, and other trauma-related feelings she had. I stated to Ruth, "This second self-statement may help you acknowledge these feelings without letting them take over."
Ruth’s acknowledgment healing self statement was, "Even though I should not feel as guilty and ashamed as I do, I can’t erase this guilt and shame. But I can decide not to let the guilt, shame, anger, and other bad feelings determine what I can do right now."
Think of your Ruth. Would helping him or her craft healing self statements help him or her begin to cope with his or her teenager’s suicide?
On this track, we have discussed six reasons why a teenager may attempt or commit suicide. We also discussed the Healing Self Statements technique.
On the next track, we will discuss emotional reactions clients may experience following a teenager’s suicide. At the end of the track, we will discuss the "Identifying Supportive Others" technique for helping clients coping with a loved one’s suicide strengthen their support networks.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Talley, D., Warner, Ş. L., Perry, D., Brissette, E., Consiglio, F. L., Capri, R., Violano, P., & Coker, K. L. (2021). Understanding situational factors and conditions contributing to suicide among Black youth and young adults. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 58, Article 101614.
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