Are we having the right conversations about suicide?

I feel angry, sad, and stuck as I think about writing this article. I’m reminded of a time that I posted a link to my online suicide prevention course and was called ‘sick’ for making money doing this work. I feel torn between my desire to help people and my need for financial sustainability (know any rich counsellors?!). Adding fuel to the fire I was asked for a free voucher to the course – and I gave it. You know what. It wasn’t even used. I feel sick thinking about it, and I feel my heart harden towards excuses around money. I don’t think money is the main barrier although I understand it as a factor. I think there must be something else. 

The stats have just been released and show we have the had more deaths by suicide this year than any other year previous. I read news articles pointing fingers at the government – don’t we love to blame our leaders, BUT there seems to be resistance to the public, that’s you and me, pro-actively investing in this topic. I wonder why?

Here are some guesses.

1. It’s not something we want to think about.

Fair enough. To be honest, both David and I found that making our suicide prevention course took its toll on us emotionally, as does the work. It’s not fun. It’s not easy. But, do you know what, it’s not fun or easy dealing with the aftermath so perhaps a little work now, might save a lot of heartaches later. This is what investing is all about and perhaps we don’t really value this investment yet.

2. It’s not urgent enough.

Like many important things in our lives, they are abandoned while the tyranny of the urgent takes over. Sometimes it’s both urgent and important, in which case people phone me in a fluster wondering what to do to help their friend or family, BUT we don’t have to wait to be better equipped. In fact, if we do wait, we are more likely to miss the early warning signs and then it’s too late. I’m not saying all suicides can be avoided. I’m not saying if you miss the signs it’s your fault. I don’t even want to imply those things. But, I am saying that it’s not just an important thing for us to be aware of and talking about, but it’s important and possible to become more skilled in having conversations with those that have lost hope. 

3. It’s not my job.

Yeah, well you could argue that this is a job for professionals and I agree to a point. Perhaps it’s best to let those who are trained have this delicate conversation?! However, it’s also your family, your friend, your co-worker – and relationship matters. You have an important role to play – not the counsellor – but you still have a role to play and it’s important.

4. Denial.

“It’s not that bad.”      “Other families have these problems, not ours.”   “They will be ok.”     “Somebody else is taking care of them.”To really face this issue we need to face ourselves. Our own hopelessness. Our own powerlessness. Our own shame. It’s time to grow up and face the music. It’s time to have a courageous conversation with yourself and realise that this is our reality. Our Nation has a problem with suicide, and that might be inside our homes, or it might be next door, and there is something we can do about it. We are not perfect and that’s ok. We can’t always help or fix it and that’s ok too, but denying it doesn’t help. It doesn’t help at all. 

I have spent literally hundreds of hours having intentional conversations with people who are suicidal, and my associate David Sanders has done the same as well as spent hundreds of hours supporting pastors who are desperately doing the same work – saving lives. Off the back of this work, the insights we have gained, and the clear need in this area we constructed an online course to help people who are helping people. While I write this I feel like this could be taken as being a sales pitch to my course, and it is, in part. Why not, I want to save lives, that’s why I made the course, and I charge for the course because I want to be able to keep doing this work and food still costs.  

I am passionate about helping those that are stuck and wholeheartedly believe that we can all be more purposeful about raising the level of hope that we hold as a nation.

“There are no hopeless situations, only those who have become hopeless about them.” – D.Riddell

So there you go, that’s some thoughts on the matter – now for some of yours? Let me know what you think!

To help you can:

  • Comment and let me know your thoughts, encouragement,  or advice.
  • Share this article
  • Gift the course | same link but click under ‘more options’

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