Friday, September 14, 2012

Suicide as a threat

In my book, Working with Suicidal Individuals, I note in the psychological sense that the suicidal person makes the early suicide decision usually before the age of 6 years. This can be seen as the truly suicidal person. The traditional literature on suicide tends to try and explain suicide as the consequence of things like depression, harsh economic times, as a consequence of mental illness and so forth. The big problem for this approach is it cannot explain why some depressed people are suicidal and others are not. There are some depressed people who are not suicidal at all. In my book I note research which shows that 50% of significantly depressed people are not suicidal at all. They don’t even consider the option of killing self because they are depressed. The concept of the suicide decision provides a clear explanation of how this could be so.

Having said that, people end their lives by their own hand for a number of different reasons and some have not made this early decision. However if they have made an early suicide decision then this person is a suicide risk. 

Cat leaping

I also make a distinction between short term suicide risk and long term suicide risk. The person who has made a suicide decision can be seen as a long term suicide risk. This means that at the moment there may not be at any imminent risk but in their psychology they have decided that suicide is a option for them under certain conditions. If such a person is identified, one needs to isolate what those conditions may be so one can be prepared should they develop. Also of course one engages in counselling like redecision therapy such that the early suicide decision can be rescinded or reduced in its potency.

Seven suicide decisions have been identified, these being:

If you don’t change I will kill myself
If things get too bad I will kill myself
I will show you even if it kills me
I will get you to kill me
I will kill myself by accident
I will almost die (over and over) to get you to love me
I will kill myself to hurt you

dog attack

In recent times I was working with a man who six months ago had separated from his wife. Prior to the separation she had threatened to kill herself if he left. He eventually did leave and two days latter she killed herself. She could have made one of a few decisions, such as:

If you don’t change I will kill myself
I will show you even if it kills me
I will kill myself to hurt you

He now was endeavoring to come to terms with this, make some sense of it such that he can go on and live his life. It is probably safe to say that to use the threat of suicide as a means of getting a person to behave a certain way is a very unprincipled thing to do. In one way it is the ultimate threat. To make another person feel responsible for their life.

Stingray woman

The bottom line in these situations is you cannot let yourself be blackmailed by such threats. If one does then such threats are likely to continue in the future. Also the bottom line is no one is responsible for the life or suicide of another person. This man knew this in his Adult ego state however he still had to live the rest of his life knowing that a woman he once loved and the mother of his children had killed herself because he left the marriage. I think it is safe to say that it is a difficult thing to come to terms with and not be effected by in a profound way.

Besides being a highly unprincipled thing to do it is probably a very regressed and child like way of acting. It is certainly angry, punishing behaviour and it works most of the time. Few people would not be effected by it even knowing in a logical way that they are not responsible for her choice to kill herself.


No comments:

Post a Comment