Friday, June 29, 2012

North Suburban Suicides: What Do Professionals Look For

An older cousin of the 17 year old male who took his life a few weeks back, has also taken his life.  20 Year old Ryan McCarthy had connections to Glenbrook North High School and to St. Norbert's Catholic Parish.  Several Churches in Northbrook have mobilized to provide support to community adolescents and others affected by these tragedies.

Many questions remain, if social network posts are any indication parents are on edge and I'm sure all of us hope there will be no more suicides.  Time will tell.  I for one will be interested in how the press handles this and if Glenbrook North weighs in or chooses to stay back.  And my sincere condolence's goes out to all the family and friends who are victims of these needless actions.  There really are no words to blunt blows like these.

I thought I'd post something from the American Association of Suicidology (AAS, 2006) on the signs that professionals should be on the lookout for when assessing suicide potential in individuals (


Suicide Ideation: Does the client report active suicidal ideation or has she/he written about her/his suicide or death? Does the client report the desire to kill him/herself?

Substance Abuse: Does the client excessively use alcohol or
other drugs, or has she/he begun using alcohol or other drugs?

Purposelessness: Does the client voice a lack or loss of purpose in life? Does he/she see little or no sense or reason for continued living?

Anger: Does the client express feelings of rage or uncontrolled anger? Does she/he seek revenge against others whom he/she perceives have wronged her/him or are at fault for the current concerns or problems?

Trapped: Does the client feel trapped? Does she/he believe there is no way out of her/his current situation? Does the client believe death is preferable to a pained life? Does the client believe that no other choices exist except living the pained life or death?

Hopelessness: Does the client have a negative sense of self,
others, and the future? Does the future appear hopeless
with little chance for positive change?

Withdrawing: Does the client indicate a desire to withdraw from significant others, family, friends, and society? Have they already begun withdrawing?  Are they avoiding dealing with large and important issues?

Anxiety: Does the client feel anxious, agitated, or unable to
sleep?  Does the client report an inability to relax?  Just as
important, does the client report sleeping all the time?  Either can suggest increased risk of suicide or self-harm.

Recklessness: Does the client act recklessly or engage in risky activities, seemingly without thinking or considering
potential consequences?  Impulsiveness?

Mood Change: Does the client report experiencing dramatic
mood shifts or states?

Listening Is The Key

As a parent, friend or significant other take the time to listen to those you know.  Being supportive isn't about having answers, it is listening to what others are really saying.  Listening is the key to spotting the above signs and symptoms.  Successfully doing so may be all that is necessary.  How well do you listen?

For more information:

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