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Suicide – Crisis Intervention
How (Not) To Treat a Suicide

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A suicide is usually defined as a conscious and deliberate conduct aimed at terminating one's life.

What types of suicides do we know?

  • Completed suicide: Within this category we distinguish, among others, balanced suicide (committed after thorough deliberation and sometimes considered as the only "genuine" suicide) and impulsive suicide (committed upon the spot idea).
  • Uncompleted suicide: Within this category we distinguish demonstrative suicide (also called parasuicidium and as a matter of fact it is a call for help) and a suicidal attempt (where there was an intention to die but the attempt failed).

In case you find yourself close to a person who seems to hold suicidal intentions on the base of an instantaneous impulse (impulsive suicide) or intoxication and the like, hinder the person from his or her behaviour by all possible means. They are most likely to be grateful to you later.

However you must choose another procedure in case of a person who decided to commit suicide after a thorough consideration (balanced suicide). The following text concerns such a case:

What to do preferably:

  • Keep cool.
  • Call the police or an ambulance.
  • Establish contact with the person.
  • Keep communicating continuously and as long as possible.
  • Enter into conversation which is interesting for the person.
  • Imagine being in his or her position.
  • Let the person talk if he or she wants to, and just slightly ask questions (for example "And what was next?", "What did you do afterwards?", or "How did you feel?").
  • React smartly. If the person says, for example, "Don't you think you can talk me out of it", you should reply something like: "That's all right. I just want to hear your story."
  • Display understanding – for example "That really must have griped you", "I don't wonder at you", "I may not have coped with this myself" etc. Ideally, try to get to the depths of the person totally , into his or her whole misery, so that when you go home later, you are haggard as if it was your life in danger, not his or her.

What not to do and not to say:

  • Do not take the matter as an adventure.
  • Do not fuss or dramatize.
  • Do not talk the person out of his or her intention openly ("Don't do it" etc.)
  • Do not moralize – for example "Your life is a gift and you mustn't destroy it"
  • Do not minimize the person's troubles – for example "It's not that bad. If you knew what problems I have..." or "... and that's why you want to kill yourself?"
  • Do not calm the person like "Y ou'll be all right again" or "Just sleep on it"
  • Do not provoke qualms of conscience – for example "And what about your wife and children? You are going to hurt them terribly."
  • Do not encourage the person to complete the suicide. This can sometimes help but only belongs to the specialists who can identify a suitable situation.


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