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Elizabeth Gu

TEDCRED 30+

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What would you say to the stranger who's about to commit suicide?

These days, quite a lot of teenagers commit suicide.
That is a tragedy.
That makes me so sad.
If only they knew they were worthy of living and "life" is not that bad.

Well, first, we need to know what makes them decide to do such thing.

Well, precaution would be the first thing,

But let's just put the statistics and researches aside for a while.

What if you were the person who was passing by next to the person who was going to kill himself?

At the very moment, what would you do to persuade him not to do it?

What would be the first words that come out of your mouth?

You know, this conversation could be very hopeful and helpful to the people who are in depression.

Consider that it could save one person's life.
You can be truly earnest and desperate at that moment.

It may sound ridiculous, but for me, I would crack some silly joke.


I would make him giggle(even if my joke is not that funny and he is not really in the mood to laugh). And then, I would insult him—so to speak to make him angry(could be a bit risky, though). And then ...I would take him to some bookstore and I would buy him the book I found it touching. I would have him read that book and then let him do what he wants to do.

Reading may not be that powerful, but in the process of doing that, he would somehow have a sense of realization that it might not be the only way….

And then, I would spare my time to listen to him although I am not a counselor.

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    Sarah M

    • +4
    Jul 16 2012: Hi Elizabeth
    I worked in Mental Health for 5 years before I had My Children.
    The first words would be Don’t. Do not leave the person alone. I would ring the Police and Ambulance immediately and continue to talk to the person. In Australia the only ways to be admitted into a Mental Health facility is by The Police, A Psychiatrist or Self Admission. That is why the police needs to be called and Paramedic will assess the mental health of the person.

    I don’t believe it’s helpful to say to the person things like “It’s not that bad”, “You have everything to live for” and “Everyone has problems”. With a person in such a state I don’t think you should try and disregard what they are saying or try to minimize what they are feeling. I would listen to them. Get them to talk about what it is troubling them and show empathy. Wait for help to arrive.

    This person will need to be admitted to a mental health facility to be accessed and cared for until they are back on their feet.

    There is a misconception that if somebody wants to commit suicide they will regardless of what you do. In many cases that is not true. Sometimes all they need is someone to care. Medication and counseling can be very effective.
    You don’t have to be a counselor to save someone. All you have to do is care about this other life and do all you can to save it.

    First Aid Guidelines for Suicide
    http://www.mhfa.com.au/documents/guidelines/8191_MHFA_suicide_guidelines.pdf
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      Jul 16 2012: Sarah,
      Impressive.
      I liked the way u have stated the whole process starting from para 1 to the end.
      Calling for help was not in my list and to be frank i dnt even think abt it but,after reading the way to tackle the person who is about to commit suicide as stated by you i feel its the foremost thing to do.
      all over i liked it.
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        Jul 16 2012: Thank You Chetan
        Its such an important topic.
        It pays to know what to do just incase
        :-)
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    Jul 28 2012: Wait until tomorrow to make this decision
    Don't make an irreversible decision like this clouded by emotion
    One more day is not a big deal.
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    Jul 16 2012: Sarah Mc and I agree on most points. In law enforcement there are crys for help, suicide by cop, and a real attempt to end life. Lets address the last one. This person has introduced the thought of suicide, made the plans, and has in some manner been given permission. They put their affairs in shape, such as insurance, clean house, wash cloths, do dishes, etc ... For them the struggle is over. The fight over to live or die has been decided. They are pretty much at peace and appear to be in a great mood. Probally better than they had been in a while. You will probally not be aware of their intent and will not have the opportunity to discuss the decision. Of course there are events that cause the decision to be made on the spot and again they do it fast and indepently with almost no chance of intervention. The cry for help is a suicide attempt with the hope of intervention and help. The suicide by cop is very dangerous to everyone. They take other lives and bait the police into shooting them in a effort to proterct the public.

    There is no one size fits all answer. Evaluate the situation, report the event, protect yourself and others from harm, and if possible listen to the victim and engage in conversation if it does not present a danger.

    All the best. Bob
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      Jul 16 2012: Hi Bob
      You have some very valuable points about the lead up to somebody committing suicide and great last paragraph.

      I still believe we can save a lot more people from suicide.

      We in Australia don’t end up with very much Suicide by cops here. I had to really think about what it is as it’s so rare here. Our cops tend to use Tazers now and Shooting by police in Australia is now very low and was low even before Tazers brought in.
  • Jul 15 2012: What is going so wrong in your life? What has gone right so far?
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      Jul 16 2012: I like it NIcole!your answer indicates we should try and change the focus. People who are negative access only negative memories. If they switch to think of the positive they might also access their own positive memories and find their own reason to continue. The people in your life are very lucky to have you.
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    Jul 16 2012: You may already know what I would say. I would ask them to hold on and remind them that everything in life can change in an instant. If the pain is so great they wish to check out we could focus on pain reduction or purpose.
  • Jul 16 2012: i will tell who ever it is to tell me 1rst WHY and if the answers i wont tell u ill try to stop him or her WHOEVER he or she is XD by force