Suicide prevention is also about letting someone know they matter
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 23:09
September is suicide prevention month, but exactly what that means depends on the individual, according to David Bush, director of Counseling and Psychological Services.
According to Bush, there is really no such thing as suicide prevention.
“You can’t predict with any degree of reliability who will take their life and who will not,” he said.
Bush said a better term for the topic is life enhancement.
“It makes a lot more sense to help a person discover reasons to live than to think that we can control whether they take their life or not,” he said.
“When we give people the dignity and respect to make choices about what to do with their own life, rarely, if ever, will they actually take their life,” he said.
Bush said he supports a study done at the University of Utah by M. David Rudd, which shows in nearly every case where somebody contemplated suicide, they didn’t go through with it because somebody showed an interest in them.
“When we spend time with the individual, showing that we care, then often they can find a reason to continue living,” Bush said.
Rudd’s project involved talking with people who prepared to jump from the Golden Gate Bridge and those who did jump from the bridge but survived.
“What they found from talking with these folks is that they just wanted to know if anyone cared,” Bush said.
Bush said the idea that talking about suicide is taboo in our society is a problem.
There is video footage of dozens of people walking past a person perched ready to jump on the bridge without saying anything, Bush said.
“They don’t even say, ‘Are you OK? Can I help you?’” he said.
When there is nothing done about the situation, it increases the chances the person will actually go through with the act of committing suicide, Bush said.
“I think it is that indifference that reinforces a person’s desire to take their life,” he said.
From his experience at USU, Bush said the circumstances are not any different here than the study at the Golden Gate Bridge.
“When I visit with students who are thinking about suicide, very rarely do they actually want to die,” he said.
Bush said the students simply want to take a rest from life. They just want to go to sleep.
“They tell me they are tired and emotionally exhausted,” he said. “Sometimes for a long time, and sometimes just temporarily.”