Jennifer Michael Hecht on Suicide

Thank you Monica Cassani and Beyond Meds for this post. Click on the title for Monica’s post, which leads with a fascinating ‘On Being’ interview with Jennifer Michael Hecht on this subject, in relation to her book:  Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It

There’s a comment we have heard on the difficulty with suicide: it keeps faith with one moment/aspect of our being at the expense of all the others.  A permanent solution to a temporary problem. Jennifer makes a similar point, and also talks about the importance of having respect for your future self. Like Monica, we resonate with that. Therapy is about both these things – paying attention always to the now, and honouring our human potential, all those future selves we cannot yet know who may do all manner of extraordinary things.

Jennifer also comments on the sense those considering suicide often describe, that they are a ‘burden’, and brings in the reality: that suicide is an exponentially greater burden on those left behind. Any of us working with those bereaved through suicide can bear witness to this.

We are excited by Jennifer’s central argument – a cultural reconfiguration of ideas about suicide to place human inter-connectness, belonging and need for each other at the heart of the debate.

At the bottom of her post, Monica gives a number of useful links – a great body of resource on this subject, for therapists and non-therapists alike. These take in helpful/unhelpful approaches, and the unhelpful nature of much of the existing psychiatric/medical model framework – or any reaction based on fear and imposing control (as opposed to an empathic response to the person concerned that is about an offer to come alongside).

If you are thinking about killing yourself, please consider talking confidentially to someone first. If that someone is a therapist, check out with them where they stand on this subject. In the case of an adult client, NOT ALL therapists will tell people against your will – it depends on the context and the therapist, and you are absolutely entitled to know the deal before you decide what to disclose. If you don’t like the first therapist’s answer, look further.

Palace Gate Counselling Service

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