A note from Kristin
Kristin Vernon, Director of Counseling
"Are you thinking about suicide?" 5 incredibly powerful words. Not only are these words powerful, they are scary, emotional, and fundamental in suicide prevention and intervention.
When we talk about having the conversation about the often whispered “suicide”, it’s these five words that make a great deal of impact and help everyone involved understand what they are talking about. It is not easy to ask, especially at first. It often takes practice – sometimes in the mirror at home or in the car on the way to work. But asking “are you thinking about suicide” has a profound impact both on the person asking and the person being asked. If the answer is “yes, I am thinking about suicide”, then both people know what is happening. They know the suicidal person needs immediate help and they both know that the helper is not only willing to ask, but willing to talk about suicide and to help however they can.
If the answer is “no, I’m not thinking about suicide”, the helper has not given anyone any ideas that would lead to suicide. The helper and person they are feeling concerned about now get to talk about what made thehelper feel scared for them. And that can lead to a really important prevention conversation.
You also don’t have to know what to say next, necessarily, other than “how can I help?”. It’s okay to use your resources, to call Headquarters Counseling Center or local mental health agencies – or both. It’s okay to feel scared and worried for the person. It’s okay to tell them that you want them to stay safe, that you want to help, that you are worried, and you need to get other people involved. It’s okay to ask for help.
But you can’t do any of those things, unless you start by asking thequestion. “Are you thinking about suicide?” It can literally save the life of someone close to you.
Director of Counseling, Headquarters, Inc.