by GSCA Member, Jackie Simmons
“Thanks, I’m fine.” is what they say . . . “except when I’m not . . .” is what they’re thinking.
Note: the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not intended to constitute or replace medical or legal advice.
It happened in silence.
They took their own life. The ultimate sales job had occurred. There was no warning, no way to intervene, and it wasn’t your (my) fault . . .
However, knowing that it wasn’t my fault didn’t stem the flood of emotion when I’d been told that one of my clients had died by their own hand.
It happens every season, but as the holidays approach (or are here, depending on your beliefs,) the topic of suicide seems to be more relevant.
Based on my research, here’s what you, and your clients, need to know:
- Suicidal thoughts are normal.
- Getting stuck in them, making plans, taking action on those plans, is not normal.
- No one is immune from suicidal thoughts.
- The emotionally aware and resilient people survive them easily.
All of our clients are either experiencing suicidal thoughts or have experienced suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives, and most of our clients are not sharing them with us.
Why not? Why don’t our clients share their biggest challenges with us? . . . their darkest moments?
- They’re afraid of being judged as weak.
- They’re afraid of being judged as mentally ill.
- They’re afraid of having their thoughts dismissed.
- They’re afraid that sharing will make the thoughts more real.
None of the above are true.
- We’re trained to see our clients as completely whole and healthy.
- We’re trained to see our clients as completely capable of managing their own lives.
- We’re trained to see our clients as completely resourceful enough to create solutions.
- We’re trained to help our clients move through thoughts, feelings, and events . . .
With all that we bring to the table, why don’t our clients share more freely?
Because there’s another side to this equation . . . ours.
Let’s suppose that our client “Larry” tells us that the stress is too much and he thinks he’d be better off dead . . .
What do we do?
Believe it or not, the answer is “It Depends” . . .
Depending on your professional designation and your state’s laws, you may have no choice but to call in an intervention.
This means, in many states, that your client will be picked up by an emergency squad, taken to a “safe-room” until evaluated by a psychiatrist (or 72 hours have passed) and they are found to be: “not an endangerment to themselves or others.”
If you want to know what that feels like, ask me. I watched it happen, I got the calls, I won’t do it again.
Knowing what we know now . . .
if a client says: “the stress is too much, I think I’d be better off dead,” what do we do?
As coaches and consultants, are we:
- willing to listen?
- on shaky legal or medical ground?
- prepared to listen without judgement?
- And, more importantly, if they don’t say it, are we willing to bring it up?
These are big questions, and I highly recommend that you research your licensing agency, certification-granters, and local laws before you decide what you’re willing to bring up with your clients during this “stress-a-day season” or any other.
Bringing up the topic of suicide is the key to preventing it because suicide is a silent killer.
If it’s been talked about and you’re considering an intervention, on behalf of a client or someone else . . . be BRAVE!
Make the call. Don’t hesitate. The consequences of hesitation can be life-ending for your client, and life-altering for you.
If, after you’ve done your due diligence, you’re prepared and willing to ask and listen on the topic of suicide, let’s play . . . I dare you to guess the season with the highest rate of suicide attempts . . .
got a guess yet? (this might have to become a poll . . . )
OK, I won’t make you wait.
The highest # of suicides occur in the spring.
Because we are aroused with all the potential of the season and internal, “core conflicts” occur when the world is “waking up to spring,” and you’re not.
The contrast between what you feel and what’s being “broadcast,” about what’s possible, is too stark and the pain is too overwhelming, and suicide seems simpler, easier, a way out . . .
There’s no moral to this story . . . only the awareness that the #s of suicide attempts are climbing in all seasons, across all age groups, and all demographics.
If someone you know is struggling, the time-honored wisdom still holds true . . . the best way out of any trouble is to help someone else out of theirs . . .
So, if you know someone who’s struggling, don’t wait . . . ASK if you can:
Share a hug,
Share a word,
And suggest that they do the same . . .
And repeat . . . don’t stop asking and talking, help them break the silence . . .
And join us for the luncheon to get more ideas and have a frank discussion on this and other challenging topics to coach on, and yes, if you can’t be in the room, the meeting will be up on zoom . . .
And we won’t be silent . . . I guarantee it.
Zoom with us at: twechannel.com