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A Compassionate Guide to Navigating Suicide Prevention

Feb 21, 2024

Suicide is a devastating topic, and many of us have felt the pain of losing a loved one in this way. Talking about suicide isn't easy, but it's an important step in getting the help we need. Suicide is a complex issue that can affect anyone, regardless of age, background, or circumstances. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), I'm here to offer personalized support to help individuals navigate difficult emotions and situations.

When someone comes to see me for the first time, I'll want to understand how they're doing mentally. I check in and ask about different aspects of their life, like their social connections, how they're feeling, and what's been on their mind. It's kind of like putting together a puzzle, trying to understand their unique needs and concerns.

I use a handy mnemonic tool called "IS PATH WARM" to recognize signs that might suggest someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts. It's a way to remember key signs like isolation, substance abuse, and feelings of hopelessness. Recognizing these signs early can make a big difference in getting the right support.

This mnemonic stands for:

Isolation: Withdrawal from social interactions and support systems.

Substance Abuse: Increased reliance on drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Purposelessness: Feelings of aimlessness or lack of meaning in life.

Anger: Expressions of frustration, irritability, or hostility.

Trapped: Sensation of being stuck in a difficult situation with no way out.

Hopelessness: Overwhelming sense of despair and pessimism about the future.

Withdrawal: Pulling away from loved ones and activities previously enjoyed.

Anxiety: Persistent worry or fearfulness, often accompanied by physical symptoms.

Recklessness: Engaging in risky behaviors without consideration of consequences.

Mood Change: Noticeable shifts in mood, such as sudden sadness or agitation.

I'll also pay close attention to impulsivity during my assessments. If someone is highly impulsive, it means they might be more likely to act on suicidal thoughts in a moment of extreme despair. In those cases, it's important to take immediate action to keep them safe.

In our sessions, we focus on developing coping skills that work for each person's unique situation. It's like building a toolbox of tricks they can use when they need them most. Remember, suicide is a permanent choice to a temporary situation. There are better ways to cope and heal.

Sometimes, safety contracts can be helpful for certain clients. It's a way to plan ahead and agree on steps to take if things start feeling really tough. I also pay attention to family history, as it might provide important insights into someone's own risk.

Asking directly about suicidal thoughts is crucial, as it provides an opportunity for early intervention and support. It's a tough conversation to have, but it can lead to getting the help needed. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it's important to seek help. You should call a 24-hour helpline like 988 or 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Remember, you're not alone, and there are people who care about you and want to help. If you need support, don't hesitate to reach out. You can contact me at or call 561-903-TALK (8255) for an appointment and start the road to feeling better.

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