Saturday, October 14, 2006
Although I may sometimes come off like I am full of a lot of piss and vinegar, I think I tend to be a very patient and compassionate person. I am very forgiving. I am a good listener. I know this about myself. If you know me very well, you know this too.
In my years of youth and young adult ministry, I have often had to deal with situations where students want to end their lives. It is heartwrenching when I have to hear this heartache from students. It is even worse when you have to visit someone in the hospital or mental health facility after a suicide attempt. My heart goes out to folks like this. It is a confusing place to be when you look at life and feel like it will never get better, and that you have nothing to look forward to. I try to assure them of my love and acceptance, and even more of God's love and mysterious purpose for their lives.
There is, however, some people who have tried my patience when I worked with them through this process. And, one of the things that tried my patience was that this person did not have proper suicide attempt ettiquette.
So, if you chose to inform me of your desire to kill yourself, please keep the following rules of propriety about doing so in mind:
1. If you are suicidal, do not try to begin an emergency phone conversation with 5-10 minutes of small talk. Do not ask me about my day, about the weather, or about what I ate at lunch that day. I may just say that I am busy and decide that I do not have time to exchange pleasantries. This is especially true if it is your 4th or 5th suicidal call of the day.
2. Please allow your vocal effect and body language to match the emotional state you are trying to communicate. When you tell me you are suicidal, do not do so sounding like a cheerleader, following by saying "Isn't that cool?" Do not do so tilting you head and with a smile. Do not tell me you are suicidal and then ask me what I am doing, and when I share that I am watching the ball game, say you will call me back in a half of an hour and hang up. If you are suicidal, it is your job to appear either angry, morose, or depressed. Or act like a zombie. The more drama the better if you are suicidal. It lets us know you are serious, and allows us to gage our response accordingly. If you are not going to be suicidal with passion, there is no point in being suicidal at all.
3. If you are reaching out to me for help via phonecall, please inform me of your whereabouts so that I may find you and do my level best to help see you through the crisis. Don't call, tell me you are going to kill yourself, and then not disclose your location or plan to get help. You make me think you are making threats for attention, and I am less likely to want to care or listen to what you have to say.
Thanks for listening, and being suicidal with proper manners in the future.