Yesterday, the world learned that famous actor and comedian Robin Williams had died at age 63. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office reported that Robin Williams had been found in his home in Northern California, but was pronounced dead at the scene. While the cause of death is still not determined, the sheriff’s office issued a statement that it appeared the comic icon had died from apparent suicide, and that an autopsy was scheduled to be conducted the following day.
Many people were shocked and saddened at the thought that the acclaimed actor who was well-known for making the world laugh, could have taken his own life. While it is still not certain that Mr. Williams did in fact commit suicide, or if he even reached out for help in the hours before his death, his publicist Mara Buxbaum stated that Williams had been suffering from severe depression lately. The truth is many people, even the ones we least suspect, are suffering from depression and may be suicidal.
The suicide rate among all economic and social groups is equal. Approximately 30,000 people commit suicide each year and in addition, there are an estimated 730,000 annual suicide attempts. Some people commit suicide in the spur of the moment. Most suicides are not well planned out.
Suicide is a transient state. The person may switch between wanting to live and wanting to die. Some suicidal people often feel hopeless, helpless and hapless, while others very at ease after they have made their decision. For them, making the decision was the hard part and the struggle is over.
There are more suicides than homicides, and a suicidal caller could be the next call at your dispatch center. Many suicide intervention calls are between 5 to 6 minutes. Some interventions go 30 minutes to 1 hour. As the call goes on, it starts to become harder to hide your feelings as the call progresses to the longer hours.
Today’s Tips & Tricks:
Listen and Stall
The dispatchers role in suicide intervention is to stall for time. Stall for a responding officer to arrive. It is vital the dispatcher listens to the caller and remains calm.
Remind the caller about the positive things in life
A suicidal person sees more negative aspects of their life than the positive aspects. The caller may be suffering from depression, thinking irrationally, or ashamed and worthless. They may have cut all ties with family and feel alone. One technique to use when call-taking is to remind a suicidal person of what the good things in life are. Suicide is a permanent decision to temporary problems.
Recognize what type of suicidal caller you are dealing with
It is just as crucial for a telecommunicator to know the difference between a contemplative suicide caller, and a completer. Contemplative suicidal callers have not made their decision, where as a completer is at ease in their choice and there was no room for intervention. Know that in those circumstances of a “completer caller” a suicidal person can not be saved. Do not blame yourself for someone else’s decision.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts: reach out to someone before its too late.
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