Seek to Understand: Key Suicide Prevention Strategy Approach

By CourtesyOctober 12, 2022

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

While many organizations are closing out September’s Suicide Awareness Prevention Month observance, suicide prevention should remain at the forefront of our organizational mental health and wellness initiatives. Remember, suicide is a response to psychological and/or emotional pain that causes mental suffering. For many of those who lost their lives to suicide, it was a solution to an otherwise traumatic unresolved experience that relieved them of their pain.

As we continue to seek an understanding of suicide and self-harm, it is imperative to not singularly look at the behavior but to explore and understand the experience of the individual and what led them to this type of decision-making. Seeking to understand the individual's experience will give us insight into the “why” it occurred and the “how” to not only mitigate the impact but solve the problem.

All behaviors begin with a thought which fuels an emotion that produces a behavior. This triadic relationship becomes a cycle that produces distortions about the traumatic experience. When the cycle continues uninterruptedly, it may produce suicidal or self-harm behaviors.

The answers to preventing suicide lie in the individual’s trauma experience, the cycle it creates, and not the behavior. Every successful prevention strategy begins with understanding not only the impacts but the problem.

Did you Know “988” is the three-digit, nationwide phone number to connect directly to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline? By calling or texting 988, you’ll connect with mental health professionals with the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

By Dr. Donna Ferguson, program manager, Army CID Mental Health & Wellness