Do you have or have you had thoughts of suicide? Have you struggled with asking someone if they are thinking about suicide or maybe you just had that gut feeling that something was not sitting well?
I know I have.
As a social worker, there is a societal expectation that people in the mental health field are trained to support people when they have thoughts of suicide. And, yes, I did take a 2-hour online course in graduate school; however, it was ONLY a 2-hour course.
I had two internships and I never once had to ask a person I was working with if they were thinking about killing themselves. Thinking about it now, I do not think I would have felt trained enough to do so; especially if I had to ask the students I worked with at a charter school in the Bronx. Two hours of training is a great start; however, like everything else there is to learn, it is all about practice.
If you want to learn a new language, you need to practice. If you want to play an instrument, you need to practice. If you want cook, you need to practice. If you want to learn how to walk, you need to learn how to crawl. The more you practice and use something, the more prepared you will be. Practice does not make you perfect. Practice makes you better.
Crisis and suicide intervention is a niche of its own and unless you are working in this field, there is a good chance that you were not as well trained as you are expected to be. Again, even as a social worker, I have had that gut feeling that someone I was talking with had suicide on their mind and I was scared shitless to ask and so I did not ask. I had 2 hours of training and 3 years later was the first time I had the gut feeling that the person I was talking to was hinting toward suicide without directly saying it.
This actually makes me think back to high school when I was learning Spanish. It was relatively easy for me to learn. I found it easy to read, I could understand when my teachers spoke in Spanish, and I did well in my classes. Yet, I never learned to speak Spanish. Why? You might ask. I did not practice. When my teachers spoke Spanish to me, I spoke English to them. I had ZERO practice using the skills. When it came to talking about suicide, I never had that conversation with someone and I did not feel confident on what I needed to do.
Talking with someone about suicide is scary for both the person with the thoughts as well as the person asking. I now work in crisis and suicide intervention and I can tell you that the first few times you ask someone if they are thinking about suicide will make you feel uncomfortable; however, I have had a lot more training, I know what questions to ask and how to be supportive to someone who is having thoughts of suicide, and I have had multiple conversations and feel better prepared to have this conversation.
If you are interested in life-saving suicide first-aid intervention skills, I would highly recommend LivingWorks Start. I have also completed this training because I wanted to make sure I could speak to the experience if people had questions. And yes, I still take suicide intervention training because I want to make sure I keep my skills honed and it helps me continue to be prepared. I am prepared to talk about suicide with the people I work with, the people I train, and my family and friends.
LivingWorks Start is a highly interactive training with a mix of reading on your own, listening to audio clips, watching text conversations, and there is also video clips to watch. Anyone 15+ can take this suicide intervention online training. You can access this training from the "Training" link on the website and it will redirect you to the LivingWorks website.
If you are an organization, business, non-profit, etc and you want to train over 100+ individuals, please let me know so I can direct you to the appropriate person.
The postings on this site are my own. My thoughts. My views.