Point of View

Point of View

The Suicide Epidemic

By Ryan Howes

September/October 2018

Unfortunately, 2018 has become a year notable for our loss of well-known public figures to suicide. The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (among too many others) drive home the point that fame and fortune are not elixirs for psychological pain. As therapists, we know all too well how common suicidality is among our clients, with 71 percent of psychotherapists reporting at least one client who’s attempted suicide, and 28 percent having had at least one client die by suicide.

Helping distressed clients who are teetering on this particularly precarious edge is one of the most important interventions we can make as therapists, and it’s one of the scariest aspects of our work. While the current media push toward suicide awareness is a welcomed effort, I’ve been working with suicidal clients since the earliest cases in my training, and still I wonder, how do we give hope to the people who feel hopeless? How do we provide help to those who feel helpless? I’ve found myself asking more probing questions with clients than I once did. But while heightened vigilance and awareness is critical, is it enough to save lives?

Kay Redfield Jamison is a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Award” recipient, and author of several bestselling books that touch on her own struggles with bipolar disorder and suicidality, including An Unquiet Mind, Night Falls Fast, and Touched with Fire.

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1 Comment

Saturday, September 8, 2018 6:56:14 PM | posted by ml farrell
Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. Death will happen no matter what. I say get rid of the undue hysteria surrounding suicide.