Psychological Self-Help

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try to kill themselves do not get any professional help—not even after
their attempt. That is disgraceful. As a society we must change…be
more sympathetic, even or especially towards loners, jerks, and weird
people. They may need help the most. Getting professional help is
crucial. However, sometimes even the professionals drop the ball. So,
be sure the doctors do their jobs, too. 
In one study, 43,000 patients admitted frequent thoughts of
suicide on a Pre-intake Questionnaire. However, 57% of the
professionals who read the intake records missed or disregarded the
patient’s reports of suicidal thoughts and concluded there was “no
suicidal ideation.” Over half the time clinicians missed blatant “warning
signs.” This may be another reason so many depressed people do not
get treatment. Many general practitioners do not recommend needed
psychiatric or psychological treatment. You do not need a doctor’s
referral to go see a psychiatrist or a psychologist (you do need a way
to pay for it or go to the Community Mental Health Center). So, again,
the patient will benefit from knowing what is recommended treatment.
This study was done by G. S. Brown and E. R. Jones for the PacifiCare
Behavioral Health organization and reported in Crisis (May, 2003), a
journal of crisis intervention and suicide prevention. 
Of course, getting help from supportive and caring friends is very
important too but, please, do not stop there. They surely are
wonderful friends to listen and help but they are not trained therapists.
Be especially careful to not latch on to a sympathetic friend for all the
help you need. Helping a suicidal friend can be a terrible burden,
especially if you are the only one they tell their troubles to. It could
continue to be an enormous psychological load, perhaps for life, if the
friend you are trying to help dies, in effect, in your care. Please don’t
turn this comment, if you are the helper, into an argument for
avoiding helping a needy person or, if you are the helpee, for dealing
with your pain all by yourself. You need the best psychological help
you can get, including an evaluation for medication. You almost
certainly need therapy in addition to medication. You also need good
friends and a caring family. 
Within our culture, we should make it top priority for everyone to
seek expert help, when it is needed, with all kinds of mental health
problems, not just suicidal depression. It is an unforgivable tragedy
that an educated society lets so many people with suicidal thoughts
avoid careful treatment—remember 30,000 die every year. Over 50%
are untreated. We couldn’t stop all the deaths but we could prevent
many. Perhaps the emotional or stigma-generated barriers to getting
help could be reduced (a) by providing many public services
announcements openly urging depressed and disheartened people to
seek effective professional help, (b) by documenting to the public the
research showing that various treatment programs truly help people
recover from serious depression as well as interpersonal problems and
mental illness, (c) by helping the average person realize that there are
likely to be complex physical, biochemical, psychological, situational,
and genetic causes of depression and suicide which he/she is not
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