Talking With Loved Ones When Concerned About Suicide

Talking With Loved Ones When Concerned About Suicide

February is Suicide Awareness Month and I was concerned about the staggering statistics in the rise in attempts by teenagers and young adults. Coming of age for teenagers involves shifts and changes. This transition may exhibit the emotional tug of war in loud outbursts or quiet brooding, spending more and more time away from home and with friends, and even opting for solitude rather than joining us at the dinner table.  How do we watch for behaviors that stem away from characteristic adolescent moodiness and veer into more dangerous contemplations of suicide? By 2014, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in America, and climbed up to number two for teenagers and young adults.  1 million estimated suicide attempts are made in America alone per year, and over 40,000 lead to actual deaths.  These staggering numbers can catalyze us to understanding the vastness of the issue in our culture and inspire us to be vessels of hope to those who don’t know how to handle thoughts of suicide. There are a few signs to look for.  90% of suicides are related to mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety. Other risk factors include substance abuse disorders, prior suicide attempts, family history of suicide and family violence, and exposure to suicidal behaviors of others.  Listen for conversations that include comments of: Hurting themselves Having no reason to live Being a burden to others Watch for behavior changes, particularly related to: Increased use of alcohol or drugs Reckless behavior Withdrawing from usual activities Isolating from community Sleeping too much or too little Giving away prized possessions If you suspect a loved...

5 Steps for Working Through Couples Conflict

“Inside the heart of each and every one of us there is a longing to be understood by someone who really cares. When a person is understood, he or she can put up with almost anything in the world.” – Ed Hird, Author, Speaker, Minister Couples typically come in to my office complaining, “We can’t communicate!” Each describes what their partner is doing wrong, complains about that person’s character flaw, and implores how s/he needs to change. The anger eventually subsides with both refusing to budge; and feeling frustrated, disconnected, helpless and painfully alone. What is couple conflict really about? The issue is not about who’s right or wrong, compromising or even fighting fair. At the core of most couple conflict an individual desperately needs to know “Are you really there for me? Will you respond to me when I call? Are you emotionally engaged with me?” Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused therapy calls these ARE Conversations. Behind distress, couples need to know “Will you be Accessible, Responsive and Emotionally Engaged?” The following steps can help you return to intimacy by working through conflict. Make time alone to figure out what the conflict is really about. Look within. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling because of what my partner did or did not do? Do I feel hurt? Shame? Disrespected? Discarded?” Have an honest look at your stance. Consider the three words that have saved many relationships. Not “I love you,” but “Maybe I’m wrong”. Are you focusing entirely on what your partner is doing wrong (in your eyes) and have your blinders on when it comes...
Time to Celebrate “Interdependance” Day

Time to Celebrate “Interdependance” Day

We live in a culture where “independence” is a desired quality of life. This Fourth of July our nation will celebrate Independence Day. A day off from our normal routines to reflect on all the benefits one receives from being “free” from the rules and obligations of a foreign power. This quest for freedom is, without question, a great virtue in the creation of a national government but what about the quest for “freedom” in your personal relationship? Scientific research shows our brains are hard-wired for connection. Human beings thrive when they can turn to and depend on their partner to share their intimate feelings and support their needs. The greatest challenge for married couples is balancing the perceived quality trait of “independence” with the human need to be “interdependent” in the relationship. The principles found in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can help one to learn to understand and to enjoy the benefits of interdependence. Wikipedia describes the habits as follows: Independence or Self-Mastery – The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence (i.e., self-mastery): Habit 1: Be Proactive Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the subsequent consequences that follow. Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Habit 3: Put First Things First Plan, prioritize, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel...

Creating Family Harmony: Avoiding Relationship Conflict

Finding a loving relationship is the main goal in life for most Americans, placing it ahead of career or financial success. Yet half of all marriages end in divorce. What is the cause of conflict in relationships? “Most fights are really protests over emotional disconnection” says Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy. She goes on to say that “we are never more emotional than when our primary love relationship is threatened. When our loved one is unavailable or unresponsive, we are assailed by emotions of anger, sadness, hurt and above all fear. Fear interrupts and negatively impacts the secure attachment bond with loved ones. It is the strongest and most deeply held emotion. The anger, criticism and demands are really cries to draw their mate back in emotionally and reestablish a sense of safe connection.” How can families create loving and harmonious relationships in their daily lives? Consider the Golden Rule – Treat other people the way you want to be treated. We all long to feel valued and understood, and to know that our thoughts and feelings matter. When your loved one confronts you use the skill of Active Listening. It’s your time to listen; not to refute their claim or defend your actions, but to listen for the underlying message at the heart of their complaint. Remember, the protest is usually over emotional disconnection. When you need to talk use the “I Message” formula. Express what you want instead of what is wrong (with the other person). It’s easier for an individual to listen to you when s/he does not feel attacked or put down.The...

Effective Communication: Thoughts about Listening

When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, You have not done what I asked. When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, You’re trampling on my feelings. When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, You have failed me, strange as that may seem. LISTEN! All that I ask is that you listen, not talk or do; just hear me. When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy. But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, No matter how irrational my feelings, Then I can quit trying to convince you and get about this business of understanding what’s behind them. So please, listen and just hear me. And if you want to talk, Wait a minute for your turn and I will listen to you. Author...