I has a supervisee say to me the other day that the idea of a suicide decision is an interesting one but is it a real thing? This made me chuckle. So I endeavored to explain it another way.
In recent times there has been a furore in Australia and England. Two DJs from Australia made a crank call to the hospital in which the pregnant Duchess of Cambridgewas residing with bad morning sickness. The DJs claimed to be Prince Charles the Queen of England and got information about the Duchess from a nurse in the hospital, called Jacintha Saldanha. A few days later the nurse killed herself by hanging. The media has seized upon this and it is sometimes said and often implied that the crank call lead the nurse to be publicly humiliated and this caused her suicide.
A crank call has never made anyone suicidal.
What it does show is that Ms Saldanha had in her head a belief that suicide is a possible solution to her problems. If things get really bad then she has the option of suicide, which is precisely what she did. And it worked, it solved her problems. This is all a suicide decision is. A belief that suicide is a possible option under certain conditions. There is a group of people walking around with this belief in their heads and they are always a potential risk of making a serious suicide attempt. Thus one can see the importance of being able to identify such a group and as I show in my book, this is not a particularly difficult thing to do.
As further evidence of this suicide decision belief, think of your self. For instance, in my adulthood I have had times when I have been very stressed and in great pain with the loss of loved ones and other bad events in my life. I think back on those times and the idea of suicide never even entered my mind. I do not have the view that suicide is a potential option for me. I have not made the suicide decision. As a quick exercise now, think back on bad events in your life and did you ever think of suicide. Most people will report either, they did not think of it at all or it did cross their mind but they knew they would never do it and it never got beyond mild consideration.
What is the difference between these people and Ms Saldanha? She had the view that suicide is an option to solve her problems and others do not have that view. That is all a suicide decision is.