I am sharing an important message with you that Dr. Mark Goulston released to the press today. He has an active support community on Twitter. Please, if you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, refer them to https://twitter.com/MarkGoulston
Suicide is on the rise. But Dr. Mark Goulston says that, surprisingly, depression isn’t the main culprit. Here he delves into “despair” and reveals seven powerful words that can help people heal.
Los Angeles, CA (September 2018)—After a recent string of high-profile suicides in America, death by suicide is a topic that’s on everybody’s mind. We all speculate about what could cause a person to take their life (and since September is Suicide Prevention Month, this is a good time to seek understanding about these tragic experiences). Was it financial problems? Marital difficulties? Health issues? Depression? Bipolar depression? Alcoholism?
And of course, suicide doesn’t affect only the rich and famous. Most of us are likely to know or love somebody who has been impacted by a suicide. So, it’s no wonder that these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revealed the prevalence of this disturbing trend:
“It’s a common misconception that depression is the culprit behind suicides,” says suicide and violence prevention expert Dr. Mark Goulston. “While depression is a contributor, it’s not the main reason people kill themselves. The real reason is despair.”
That’s right, despair—not despair. Goulston describes despair as feeling unpaired with the reasons a person wants to live:
“When you engage someone in any of the eight ‘-lesses,’ it can lead to a more dynamic, engaging, and expressive conversation,” says Goulston. “When that occurs, and the despairing person begins to express and describe what any of those words mean to them, they will begin to experience those feelings versus experiencing nothing and feel relief as they ‘pair’ with the empathic person who is listening to them.”
If you believe a loved one is in an acute suicidal crisis, get help immediately by calling 911. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK or visiting https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. But if someone you love is struggling increasingly with the “-lesses” mentioned above, Goulston says to reach out to them now. He recommends using interventional empathy to lessen their despair and prevent destructive behavior. The protocol helps you pair with that person and ease the unbearable pain and loneliness they feel.
Here’s how to practice interventional empathy and pair with your suffering loved one by using seven simple words:
STEP ONE: When someone you know is in a very dark place—or if it’s you, you can speak to someone about it or journal about it—and after you have been speaking to them enough to make a connection say, “Seven words.”
This causes them to stop and be temporarily confused—which will temporarily break their vice grip hold on feeling suicidal—and they will often respond with, “What?”
STEP TWO: Then say, “Seven words. Hurt, afraid, angry, ashamed, alone, lonely, tired. Pick one and start telling me about it.”
Presenting the seven words in such an “assertive” manner will often cause people to spontaneously begin expressing those feelings, feeling less alone, crying, feeling relief, and becoming more open to a conversation that may cause them to consider other options.
“In an age where suicide is becoming more and more commonplace, we have a chance to stop despair in its tracks before a person becomes suicidal,” concludes Goulston. “Say the seven words to someone who is in the depths of suffering, and give them the chance they need to feel less alone and reclaim the hope they have lost. Your empathy costs you nothing, but it could end up saving a life.”
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If you or someone you love needs help, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
About Dr. Mark Goulston:
Dr. Mark Goulston is a former UCLA professor of psychiatry, FBI hostage negotiation trainer, suicide and violence prevention expert, and one of the world’s foremost experts on listening. He is the author of “Just Listen”: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone. For more information, contact Dr. Goulston at: mgoulston at gmail dot com or visit his website at: www.markgoulston.com.
This post has originally been posted here: https://medium.com/@mgoulston/why-people-kill-themselves-its-not-depression-44113406ac79