Caregiving & Self-Care: A practical workshop
Giving care with the lens of suicide prevention can be equivalent to listening well, connecting someone to the help they need, and walking with them along the way. At the same time, caring for yourself means making sure that you are honest about your own limitations and capabilities.
What Interaction Will The Workshop Have?
The most interactive part of the workshop involved a simulation in pairs and groups, where participants were tasked with a situation in which they would have to assist someone who is thinking of taking their own life, in mental distress, or struggling with a problem one way or another. Participants were able to practice active listening skills while employing mindfulness and empathy in their conversations. It was also important to practice knowing what signs to look out for, how to navigate the conversation and not get lost in the details, try to problem-solve, or jump to conclusions. The simulations helped to make hypothetical situations seem real. It is real when there is a heavy silence between someone saying “I want to die”, and you thinking about how you should respond. It is real when someone says “I don’t know what to do”, and you really want this person to get help. It is real when someone says “I don’t care anymore”, and you’re at your wits end.
How do you care for yourself while caring for someone else?
The day began with a hard look at reality. Let’s face it — suicide happens. It happens all too often, and often involves those we love and care about. Unfortunately, many of us live by myths instead of facts about suicide, and the resulting fear and confusion is greatly unhelpful for all those involved. In the workshop, we learned that suicidal ideation may arise from many different situations; no single trigger may cause a person to want to take their own life. More often than not however, it is a desire to stop living in pain that is unbearable, so much so that death seems to be more reasonable of an option. However, merely dismissing suicide as “unreasonable”, “selfish”, or “attention-seeking” is not helpful. Neither is threatening to leave, ignore, or brush off a plea for help effective nor comforting to the person who may be considering suicide.