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
The Surprising Reason People Die by Suicide (and the Seven Words You Can Use to Help Someone Who May Be at Risk)
Suicide is on the rise. But Dr. Mark Goulston says that, surprisingly, depression isn’t the main culprit. Here he delves into “des-pair” 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 own 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 problems? Health problems? 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 affected 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:
- Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016.
- Suicide rates went up more than 30 percent in half of states in the U.S. since 1999.
- Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016.
- More than half of the people who died by suicide (54 percent) did not have a known mental health condition.
“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 des-pair.”
That’s right, des-pair—not despair. Goulston describes des-pair as feeling unpaired with the reasons a person wants to live:
- Hopeless — unpaired with a future that is worth living because all efforts to lessen pain (medications, therapy, etc.) have not worked
- Helpless — unpaired with the ability to pull themselves out of it
- Powerless — more of #2 above
- Useless — unpaired with any solution or treatment that works or alternatively feeling that you contribute nothing to anyone and are only a burden (even if those people protest the opposite)
- Worthless — ahh yes, unpaired with one of the key reasons we exist
- Purposeless — unpaired with a mission for you to focus on and that gives you a source of pride, without which one can feel aimless and ashamed, as in, “My life has no purpose.”
- Meaningless — unpaired with what Viktor Frankl was able to discover in a concentration camp and what one can feel when they have no purpose
- Pointless — unpaired with any reason to not pull the trigger, put the noose around your neck, jump from that building, take those pills, step onto those train tracks
“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 des-pairing 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.”
The Seven Words That Can Help Someone Who Is Suffering
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 more and more with the “-lesses” mentioned above, Goulston says to reach out to them now. He recommends using interventional empathy to lessen their des-pair 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 des-pair 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.”
# # #
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