Suicide is still a taboo subject in our culture that is not openly discussed. However, talking about suicide is essential to detecting a person’s risk.
Because you’ll be discussing a difficult subject, remember that it is often more important to listen without judgment to someone who is willing to open up to you than to give advice.
Ask open-ended questions, provide support and empathy, don’t close the door, brainstorm solutions and next steps, and elicit a commitment to further action.
Asking Open-Ended Questions: Dos & Don’ts
If someone is exhibiting any warning signs of suicide or has any of the underlying risks for suicide, it is always a good idea to ask if she is thinking about or planning her suicide. If the answer is “Yes, I do think of suicide,” you must take it seriously.
While this module has primarily emphasized talking about suicide risk and exploring risk with a faith member about whom you are concerned, the next module will address steps, strategies, and best practices for working with faith members with different levels of risk.