Suicidal thoughts and planning: alternative ways to approach folks

Updated 2018: I posted on twitter in response to someone else saying they don’t feel safe asking for help:

“yes…therapists often don’t get it and it can actually feel dangerous to talk to a therapist because they’re liable to lock you up when you share suicidal thoughts. That’s f***ed up. Pure and simple. Folks need to be able to talk without fear of being locked up.”

one response I’ve got:

“Exactly. My sister told her GP she felt suicidal. The police took her away in hand cuffs.”

I said,

“thank you for sharing that Sam …this is exactly what people need to know…who is really sick here? not your sister.”

so REALLY?? they tell us to be sure to ask for help. What do we do when there is no safe “help” available? Until we are, as a society, willing to answer that question people will continue to die without being offered a chance to share and thus process their pain. 

A system that criminalizes pain rather than supporting that person with love is sick.

It’s not rational or sane to forcibly lock people up while they’re in their deepest despair. It’s not help and to call it help is double speak. It’s also a sort of gas-lighting experience to be told that you’re getting help while you are losing your freedoms.

True service: recognizing every human being as peer. I don’t like the word peer as used in the mental health field because it is, once again, divisive. Every human being has “lived experience” and we are all deeply equal.  If, as professionals we are not able to bow to the wisdom of the pain in those who come to us for help, we are not helping. We need to listen and not be in fear ourselves. If we still have that much fear we shouldn’t be trying to help people in crisis.  And so, the laws must change too. We are a long way off from creating safety for those in pain.

Until we embrace egalitarianism and non-hierarchical regard for every human being on the planet we will remain a troubled and sick people. When the sensitive person who is struggling risks getting locked up if they tell the truth who is insane here? Not the person in pain, I tell you. It’s the people who lock up such a person.

Liability on the part of the professional and the (mental illness system) is deemed more important than what the person actually needs. Terror, and fear drives the reactions made by the system. A loving response is what is needed…not reactivity. Who is sick here?

Those in pain must be able to talk about feeling suicidal without fear of reprisal (because yes, it’s treated like a crime – folks get locked up if they dare to discuss) people will continue to feel isolated, alone and unable to process their deepest pain. See: Forced Treatment is Coercive

Also see: When suicide ceases to be taboo there will be less suicide and Suicidal thoughts are treated like a crime: that’s why people don’t seek help.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve compiled a few posts that consider suicide in various ways and especially consider ways to deeply support people dealing with such inner pain.

Below are a few links to posts with excerpts from the page. I will continue to update this page as a resource and you will be able to find it in the drop-down navigation menu under the ABOUT section. The post you’re viewing now is a cut and pasted copy so as to appear on the home-page today.

More on this topic from Beyond Meds:

●  DIVINE SUICIDE: Depressive Breakdown as a Call to Awakening – “I have seen far too many people in the care of social services and standard mental health care grossly retraumatized rather than helped when feeling their most vulnerable because people do not understand this loving, accepting and healing approach. It’s based in deep trust for the process of the individual who presents themselves in front of you. Listen. Love.”

●  A conversation about suicide – “This conversation in the below video with Adyashanti is so refreshing. It’s absolutely true that those who are suicidal are all too often met with terror and control. Most people who feel suicidal need to talk about it. Approaching people with love and openness means NOT being terrified of that persons dark places. And not reacting in a knee-jerk and controlling manner. That has never allowed anyone to feel safe to open up about the painful vulnerability they are most assuredly experiencing when feeling suicidal.”

●  Six Ways You Can Really Help Prevent Suicide – by Leah Harris “I tried to kill myself when I was 14. It wasn’t the first time. My psychiatrist had just upped my Prozac, a whole lot of unresolved early childhood trauma had flared up at puberty, and the baseline sadness and confusion I felt mushroomed into an overwhelming desire to die. The thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone: Everything I could think of circled back only to suicide. I wrote out a suicide note and made an attempt.  I won’t go into the horrors of waking up alive in an emergency room where the staff was clearly annoyed they had to deal with me and my “attention seeking” behavior.”

●  Living with suicidal feelings  — By Will Hall “It’s time for a new understanding of suicidal feelings. Is it really best to force someone into the hospital when they are suicidal? Do suicidal feelings plus “risk factors” really mean professionals can predict whether someone might try to kill themselves? And are suicidal feelings the symptom of a treatable illness that should include medication prescription?”

●  A suicide prevention poster from the Icarus Project – “Most of the suicide-prevention posters I’ve seen (admittedly not that many – the topic is still pretty taboo in our society), are aimed solely at the loved ones and close friends of the person in danger.  How to recognize the signs of suicidality, who to call, etc.  Somewhat helpful, I guess, but shouldn’t we be addressing, in some way, the person who is actually considering this extreme action?  It’s as if the assumption is that person is beyond reason, beyond understanding (if you want to get explicit about it, not really human anymore), so there’s no point talking to him.”

●  Many psychiatric symptoms remit upon drug withdrawal – including suicidal impulses –  ”Something that comes up quite often in discussions with my friends and readers who have been on meds and have come off of them is how many of the “psychiatric” symptoms they were being “treated” for disappear upon discontinuation of the medications. This is widely known and experienced among those of us who have decided to stop medicating ourselves.” (**warning – rapid or cold-turkey withdrawal can often inflame psychiatric symptoms (including feelings of hurting oneself) for some time. For safer withdrawal practices see here.)

●  Psychiatric Drugs as Agents of Trauma — “Drug Stress Trauma Syndrome” –  ”This article is written by Charles Whitfield, MD, a psychiatrist, who has recognized the trauma these drugs can create for a very long time. It’s clearly an important read.”

Also seeWhen suicide ceases to be taboo there will be less suicide and Suicidal thoughts are treated like a crime: that’s why people don’t seek help.


For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

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