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Talking somebody out of suicide

  1. Sep 21, 2003 #1
    I was not sure where to post this.

    How do you talk somebody who is very stuborn, lazy, with little hope for happiness, and no meaning in life out of suicide?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2003 #2
    Offer them money? Send them to a shrink? Seriously, you can just be their friend, and be there for them, and hope it is enough...
  4. Sep 21, 2003 #3
    I've had too much experience in attempting this feat, and really, it changes for every person. It depends on the person's inteliigence, their situation in life, and even how they look. There's no set way to do it, and no specific procedure for any given situation. The most stressed idea, however, is that you never stop doing it. You continue being their friend and provide your counseling services for as long as possible (which when you're a friend is easier).
  5. Sep 22, 2003 #4

    The first thing is that if you characterize this person in your mind as stubborn and lazy you will have a very hard time helping them sort anything out.

    The "laziness" you see is probably the profound sence of fatigue that overcomes anyone who feels hopeless, and the "stubborness" is often a misplaced attempt on their part to be "realistic". It is often just about impossible to talk a depressed person into a better attitude because it sounds to them like your asking them to deny the reality of their emotions.

    People usually become profoundly depressed due to a neuro-chemical disposition toward not producing the right balance of chemicals in the brain, coupled with a life of poor thinking habits that create a cycle. The chemical problem makes them prone to dwelling on unhappy trains of thought, and that in turn generates more bad chemicals.
    They can get to a point where they see their lives through a mental filter which is set up such that nothing good can get through the filter, only the bad stuff.

    Being a friend, like evryone said is good. Alot of what a therapist does is to just listen and accept what the person reports about their experience, without resisting the information. It can be very calming just to find out someone is listening and hearing what you have to say.
  6. Sep 22, 2003 #5
    That note is especially pertinent. I've actually seen someone go so far as being completely catatonic because of depression. She literally could not move.
  7. Sep 23, 2003 #6
    Instead of talking, try listening.
  8. Sep 23, 2003 #7
    Bingo, people seriously contemplating suicide aren't likely to be talked out of it unless you have some amazing persuasion skills. Instead be there as much as possible for that person, be completely selfless. Also try try try to get that person to see a doctor.
  9. Oct 2, 2003 #8
    ok, greg, but let's say the person has seen the doctor and is taking all the antidepressants but still can't think of a rational reason to keep living being one not tempted to satisfy curiosity (to learn), make money (to work), help others, etc.?

    the therapy is going well and the therapist is listening to everything without judgement. yet, the therapist still can't give them a reason to live.

    at this point, the doctor may want to put such a person in the hospital and/or change the medication (after all, not all anti-depressants will work on all people).

    and then the cycle continues once the person is out of the hospital and is on new medication. still can't find a reason to live.

    in the incredibly depressed people, shock therapy is still resorted to.

    then the person may still find himself in the same boat not too long after that.

    at what point do we let the person do it, realizing that wanting to keep them around despite the fact that they don't want to be here is just selfish? ie, let them euthanize themselves?

    but let's just say the person isn't incredibly depressed and that just talking to them alone will do it. how to do it? try reflective listenting where you reflect back to them what they just said in your own words. it shows them you're listening and that you understand them. sometimes, the whole reason for speaking is to be heard and understood. often, they will feel this in a way gives them the liberty to keep talking, more and more. and keep listening reflectively. the inspiration to keep talking may be intense. i would caution against giving unsolicited advice, no matter how reasonable it seems. it's not really about changing the circumstances, for one inclined to be depressed will still be depressed even though the circumstances get "better." it's about changing how one VIEWS the circumstances they are in. that is a tall order. saying, "look at what you DO have," is the right spirit but not the right thing to say always. (and if YOU can't see what they DO have, then you might want to consider letting this poor chap talk to someone else.) i would be very reluctant to actually state, "you shouldn't kill yourself," or, especially, not, "you shouldn't kill yourself for the following ten reasons." to them, it seems like you're saying how they feel is invalid, it seems like you're not listening. if you let them come to the conclusion that they shouldn't kill themselves without beating them over the head with it, it will be so much more powerful that way. often enough, it will be enough to just get them through the night; when they wake up, they may feel so much better.

    i heard a report somewhere that just talking about your feelings literally makes you feel better. especially talk in the manner i described above.

    however, you're really stuck when someone like the following comes by: ok, i feel better, but i still don't have a reason to live. i still want to kill myself though i'm actually quite happy with my life. i just don't see a reason to keep living. to base the reason to live on something as irrational as emotional happiness seems irrational. not wanting to be irrational, i still want to kill myself.

    if anyone has any suggestions with the last kind of guy, let me know. i'm very curious for my own reasons.

    Last edited: Oct 2, 2003
  10. Oct 8, 2003 #9
    I have never seriously considered taking my own life . Life can be so interesting , I can't imagine living without it .

    Suicide is illogical except in cases where impending death is imminent . This is really a personal choice however . Hopefully , people considering killing themselves would consider any cleanup the survivors would have to endure .

    ...then again , just call a suicide clean up service .

    http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/cns/2003-03-07/83.asp [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  11. Oct 8, 2003 #10
    is it illogical when the person has been told by the medical community that the rest of their life will be wrought with suffering?

    this is the case when diagnosed with a mental illness such as schizophrenia. fewer than 10% recover and even that is debatable. some say one never recovers.
  12. Oct 8, 2003 #11
    a person who considers suicide needs a reason to live. They need to find something to love. The best thing to love, of course, is just life itself. Convince the person that life's enjoyable, its meant to be fun, it isn't meant to be suffering, and no matter how much wrong there seems to be, its not so bad and life is still good. i was never suicidal myself, but i was depressed. i saw no reason in living, but i saw no reason in killing myself either. One of the reasons i got better, was just that i remember how to have fun, how to enjoy myself, and to be happy no matter what the circumstances, what people think, or what is normal.
  13. Oct 8, 2003 #12

    If you have a good reason to believe that this person may harm himself or herself you might want to consider talking to a school psychiatrist about the situation...so that they can have him or her detained...they will probably ask a few questions to see if the action would be justified.

    First...try this:

    Ask on how this person plans to commit suicide. If she or he has detailed steps, it is most likely that this individual is seriously thinking about committing suicide.

    The three abstract steps to suicide (not acute)

    -the suicide dummy

    Those of us who have never even come close to suicide...suicide is utterly foreign...the concept of suicide is incomprehensible...life has not many core principals...naieve

    -Survival off of principal: the positive direction

    Those of us who have contemplated suicide and as a result are required to adapt to a principle or principles and the continuous fulfillment and reinforcements of these principles...abstract reinforcements for living.

    -Survival off of principal: the principal of suicide

    Those of us for whom the "suicide" has become the principal. Continous survival off of this principal and the eventual completion of the principal.
  14. Oct 9, 2003 #13
    phoenixthoth , are you speaking about yourself ? My apologies for not considering all possible suicidal motivations . I have no experience with your problem , so I just don't know how disabling that can be .

    If someone is considering killing themselves , talking may be usefull because it not only delays but also makes them think through their motives . I have had two friends take their lives , some years ago . Both just 20 years old . One had stomach cancer , the other had an argument with his girlfriend .

    Time and maturity may have persuaded the latter to realize that suicide was not an intelligent option .
  15. Oct 18, 2003 #14
    The approach I have use a few times and was very helpfull is in some ways the most radical.

    I suggest to the person that they imagine that they are already dead.

    And go on to say that this is it...die again and well you only get back to where you were.....so the obvious outcome is suicide is in it self absolutely futile.

    there is nothing to be gained by it and solving your problems is the only way out.

    The philosphy is quite simple: Suicide is only an option because it is felt that it offers relief and all I am proposing is that maybe it doesn't.

    The emotional black mail aspect has also got to be neutralised if you as a friend want to be able to help.
  16. Oct 19, 2003 #15
    ask them

    Why do they want to die?
    Why don't they want to live?
    Do they want to be happy?
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