Suicide Prevention

A Story from Mark Andreas:

A good buddy of mine was having another in a string of bad days, so on a particularly poignant hunch, I stopped by his place and knocked on his door. He refused to answer the door at first, and my hunch was confirmed... After a few minutes of coaxing, he emerged with a knife in hand, having contemplated doing himself harm. I knew all the reasons were real enough for him.

The threat of suicide is a serious matter, and I never take a threat lightly, having watched too many of my own family, friends and neighbors attempt suicide, and two of my neighbors had "succeeded" while their parents were home.

Tonight, I was able to walk the proverbial second mile with my buddy, listening while pacing, and then able to lead the discussions away from content to new contexts. He had a thousand grievances but he did not resist as we shifted the focus from the problem to the process.

I noticed that his eyes were glued downward, so we began with a metaphor of finding figures in the clouds overhead. First of all, it got him to look up, and then we were able to explore how many ways there are of seeing things differently... from each other, and from moment to moment.

Together, we played with submodalities, we swished from feeling bad to feeling good, we dissociated and ran over the boundaries of today's episode, playing the movie backward and very fast and from the perspective of a fly on a goalpost 100 yards away, until it was drained of its gravity. We created a brighter future in his own terms, and associated him into it, giving him powerful reasons to continue living. We also worked out some strategies for facing some of the shame he felt from a certain female in his life. The physiological shifts from cutting himself to having a purpose were powerful, as were the shifts in the underlying neurology.

I know from experience that follow up is going to be required to generalize this work and test it in the real world when nobody will be around to rescue him from his thoughts but himself. It's been true in my experience that people who actually do kill themselves do so not at the bottom, but after some improvement, and perhaps a backsliding episode... a disappointment.

Even after future pacing, and rehearsing his strategies to change his state the next time he gets down and alone, I know he'll need support. I'll be checking in, helping him with any backsliding, tuning up his strategies, and celebrating any wins or gains.

NLP is not just for fun, folks. It can save lives.