Talking Someone Down

Talking someone down from suicide

Try to get into the frame of mind of someone who is suicidal – feeling hopeless, a burden to others, giving up on yourself as a person, feeling angry and self-hating, being in intolerable psychological pain, unable to think of or conceptualize options, thinking obsessively about the details of suicide, thinking in black-and-white terms “It’s the only thing you can do,” feeling overwhelmed by the presence of a current crisis, lacking (at least in your mind) any social support, and experiencing thoughts urging you to commit suicide. You are ambivalent. A part of you wants to die, destroy yourself, get out of the pain, but another part, perhaps a small part, wants to live, still has interest in life.

Imagine a situation that has preceded this crisis. What went wrong? Who does it involve? Etc. In other words, design a story for yourself (what led up to you feeling suicidal) and then play the role. As the other participants try to talk you down, react as you feel. If you feel they are agitating you or making comments that make you want to jump, you can jump or communicate your feelings of wanting to jump. Go along with the flow. Respond as you think someone who is suicidal would respond to the attempts to help.


Information adapted from the “California Helper’s Handbook”
Used by permission of The Glendon Association.
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