14th August I received a call. It was a loaded question: The caller’s girlfriend had broken up with him, she was kicking him out of their house, and, I determined, he was actively suicidal. He was planning to take his own life, and he was on the verge of going through with it. Along with that, he had passive homicidal thoughts, which means that he had thoughts of killing someone, but didn’t have a specific plan.
I knew I had the right tools to de-escalate this situation, but having a plan and actually putting it into action are two different things. At first, I was obviously terrified, but as I heard his problems, I knew I had to put my fears behind me so that I could help him find the right solution to these daunting thoughts.
I have come across many people who rush through their conversations, but, he took his time and explained his thoughts very clearly. Strangely, he sounded so cheerful throughout the call. Even though he was talking to me about the pain he was going through, he still seemed exuberant. He started calling himself “insane” for even having such suicidal & homicidal thoughts. I assured him that his thoughts were normal and that is a vital part of crisis counseling, and it was the first step to making those thoughts more manageable.
As we spoke, together we decided on a “safety plan” as crisis counselors call it. We figured some of the warning signs which are also known as “triggers” that made him feel suicidal & homicidal in the first place. Remembering his past relationship was one of the triggers. We tried to figure out some coping strategies like calling a friend so that he always had a plan when those warning signs would inevitably hit him.
By the end of our conversation, I referred him to get connected to a more long-term treatment which he agreed to. We don’t do follow-up calls hence I will never really know if he went through with the treatment. But I do know that throughout our call, he realized that his thoughts weren’t crazy, he wasn’t insane, and he most definitely wasn’t alone.