Psychological Self-Help

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olds) had consulted their family physician during the year. Some of
their concerns were about physical health, like upper respiratory
illness, but many had mental health problems. 
20. A WARNING: There are Web sites, perhaps several of them,
that present the view that suicide should be an individual’s choice to
be accepted by others. Some have described their sites as “sanctuaries
where people can discuss suicide in an atmosphere that is not
condemnatory.” Some of these sites allegedly provide directions for
committing suicide and it is known that online chat groups have
“egged” a person on and then watched them, via a camera, die. It is
not known how many deaths are encouraged by such sites. Yet, it is
something for the depressed and their families to be aware of.
Certainly, a person deeply into suicidal thoughts should not be
exposing themselves to morbid, dangerous, and possibly disordered
thinking of an unknown and unprofessional person on the Internet. 
21. Several studies have tried to determine what percentage of the
general population has had suicidal thoughts. The results have ranged
from 5% to 50% of us. One study by a careful Australian researcher
(Goldney, 2000) estimated that 17.5% of 15 to 24-year-old women
and 20.2% of men the same age had some suicidal thoughts. With so
many people having suicidal thoughts, while the act is quite rare, that
means that only one person actually died of suicide out of every 612
who had thought about it. That is why clinicians ask questions, use
tests, and gather additional information to estimate the risks—
questions like: Have you made plans? Have you thought of or
prepared a way or a means? How soon will you do it? Have you told
others? Thinking or talking a little about killing yourself doesn’t mean
you are going to do it nor that you are not going to do it. One always
has to be on guard. 
22. You might think that Ph. D.-level therapists would seldom get
depressed or think of suicide. However, out of 800 psychologists
surveyed, 84% had been in therapy, 61% with serious depression,
29% reported having had suicidal feelings, and 4% attempted it (Pope
& Tabachnick, 2004). Some might think these data mean that these
depressed therapists are poorly prepared to help others. I would
suggest that the life experience of having had depression and
overcoming it might improve their understanding, sympathy, and skills
as therapists. 
23. There are many myths or false ideas about suicide. Examples:
(a) “People who talk about it never do it” or “People who really want to
die never tell anyone.” In fact, 80% have given verbal signals. (b)
“Anyone who tries to kill him/herself intends to die.” In fact, many
attempters are undecided—still in conflict about living or dying. Often
they “gamble with death,” leaving it to chance or for others to save
them. (c) “Once suicidal, always suicidal.” In fact, most of the time
that is just not true; once saved from suicide, a high percentage are
grateful for a full life. (d) “The risk is over when they hit bottom and
start to improve.” In fact, most suicides occur during the 3 months
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