Deliberate suicide risk

There was an interesting feature article in the weekend newspaper titled “Out of the blue”. It was about a woman and her two adult children. Her husband (the children’s father) had suicided out of the blue. That is he had taken his own life and no one knew there was anything even wrong. He had never said anything was wrong nor displayed any abnormal behaviour. It’s an interesting interview of these three people about their father/husband and their responses to his completely surprising suicide.

In my book – Working with suicidal individuals – I wrote a chapter precisely on this type of suicidal person. I call them the DSR or deliberate suicide risk. In my work in a prison with suicidal inmates there were 750 men incarcerated. I actively set about trying to identify such non reporting suicidal people instead of waiting for them to make some kind of suicide attempt before they are identified.

The research shows that about 70 to 80 percent of people will make some kind of statement to someone, often multiple times about their suicidal feelings before making an attempt. This of course is a good thing as it allows them to be identified and therefore some kind of assistance can be provided before an attempt is made.

On the down side it means 25 percent or 1 in 4 people do not make any kind of statement before a suicide attempt, like the man written about in the newspaper. That is a significant group of people. In my analysis of some of their personality characteristics it is apparent that many do not want any kind of ‘fuss’ made of them. People know that if they tell someone such as a therapist, then that person is bound by law to report them in some kind of way. It is called a ‘duty of care’. Many of these non reporting suicidal people do not want that because it means all sorts of people will then approach them in a variety of ways offering care and at times non solicited care which they feel most uncomfortable about. They don’t want all that attention and fuss made about them.


let me talk about my aloneness and despair. Don’t force me to remain silent.


In this case the laws of this country which are designed to make people safer, mandatory suicide reporting laws, have completely the wrong effect. They make a very high suicide risk group at even more danger of a completed suicide. They know they can’t tell a counsellor or therapist or even talk about it to someone at least in the helping professions as they will report him immediately. There needs to be a change in the current legislation which allows for a category of suicidal person not to be reported in a mandatory way. If this should happen then this group of very unhappy people who are feeling very alone are not made to feel more alone but the current laws of this country.

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3 Responses to “Deliberate suicide risk”

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  1. Dona says:

    The duty of care is used when clients are acively planning to suicide.
    Thinking about or feeling suicidal can be explored with a professional without intervention.

  2. Tony White says:

    Hello Dona, When this type of client is high risk and planning a suicide attempt they don’t talk to you because they know you are required to break confdentiality and report them. Thus our laws leave them in a worse situation and leaves them at higher risk of suicide due to higher degree of isolation and alientation.

  3. Sparky says:

    Dear Tony and Dona, I hope you don’t mind me posting but as someone in TA therapy and with a strong Do Not Exist injunction I’ve often thought about suicide. I am the type who would never admit it, even to my therapist because I know what would follow.

    The time she identified my injunction and we explored the roots of it with my parents effectively rejecting my birth, I made a lot of effort to point out that this might be true but I was not suicidal and had never thought about it seriously. I have of course had numerous thoughts and they usually are accidental overdoses as I am also an addict. I can confirm that there are a small number of us who hide it, it’s out secret way out card if we need it and it has to remain hidden.

    very much like our addictions often want to remain hidden because by opening up, people just take away what we need to survive before they think of what will replace it.

    Thank you for letting me post here.


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