Suicide And Coaching Depressed Clients

Depression and Suicide Coaching for me is more than just coaching depressed clients; giving them a pep talk. It is a FUSION of Life Coaching and ASIST suicide training. Trained in ASIST (Advanced Suicide Intervention Skills Training), and a certified Life Coach, the obvious way forward was to fuse these two together.

Coaching Depressed Clients
Coaching Depressed Clients

If you see depression and suicide as a river… at the beginning a person gets depressed. Then they start to think about suicide. They step into the river. The more they go down the river the more they are thinking about suicide and planning how to do it.

Questions From The ASIST Training

The ASIST training encourages you to ask very direct questions.  Questions like:

  • Have you thought about suicide?
  • Have you made any plans to carry out suicide?

If they reply in the affirmative then you can go deeper by asking what plans they have made.

ASIST suicide training is great but doesn’t really show you what to do once you have found their turning point – the point where you discover something that the person wants to stay alive for. The suicide training concentrates on “Keeping you alive NOW!”

However, this is where coaching steps in and… BAM! You have got the techniques to take a person further into LIFE. Coaching also comes into play at the beginning of the river and can transform “The River of Death” into “The River of Life”.

Suicide And Coaching Depressed Clients: How Does it Work?

Depression and Suicide Coaching identifies how depression is working  in a person. It breaks the depressive cycle and thought patterns. Depression and Suicide coaching then finds their turning point and is able to coach the client to set in place steps for their future.

You find the turning point by finding out their story:

  • Actively listen to the story they tell you.
  • Ask open question to discover more about the person.

Depression is Like a Black Diamond

Depression is like a Black Diamond. (Yes, Black Diamonds are real.) Like diamonds, black diamonds too have many facets. A diamond refracts the light where as the black diamond varies as to how much light reflects through them. They have a range of clarity depending upon by the presence of numerous inclusions within the diamond. Also black diamonds are believed to be from outer space in origin. They are born in dying stars, later falling to earth either in fragments or within meteorites.

The depression is like a black diamond in the following ways:

There are various levels of depression, some more serious than others…

Depression comes and goes. One day it might be light and the next day, a really dark and heavy cloud of depression hangs over their head.

Depression has many facets…

The most common is the “Sad, unmotivated, not wanting to do anything” side of depression which many associate with depression. However there are other facets of depression such as, where the person can be laughing, joking and smiling. They seem to be doing really well and the depression is usually overlooked. However, when the music fades and the lights go on and they are all alone, it is a very different story. Dying stars symbolize that depression is killing the person. Depression kills motivation. Depression kills the energy of the sufferer. Depression kills slowly or quickly from the inside and it can get to the stage where a person wants to kill themselves physically as well.

Zombies, Robots, Shipwrecked and Champions

There are different types of clients, which I have classified only four of those types.  I will give a brief explanation and an example of how Depression and Suicide Intervention and Life Coaching work together.

There is a mix of female and male, young and old, as suicide affects all walks of life. However, that said, “Death by suicide” is highest among teens and middle aged men.

Zombie Clients

Zombies are the living dead. Zombies exist and survive. Their only goal is to get their next meal. They don’t have big plans of what they are going to do with their lives, actually they don’t have any plans at all.

There are so many people like this. They are “Zombies”… the living dead. They are dead on the inside. They are quite content just to exist and survive. They have no “Life Plans” just live hand to mouth. The great substance in their lives is the next episode of the latest soap TV show. That is their reality.

“Every Man dies but not everyone really lives” – William Wallace.

Zombies don’t live their lives to the full at all… not even close. They take it further by perpetuating more zombies around themselves.

My Zombie Client

One such Zombie came to me for help. He was a Chinese man in his mid 30’s. He was married, but had no kids and worked in a job that his parents wanted him to do. He had no passion for his work since it was not his choice of career. In fact that Zombie attitude spilt over into EVERY aspect of his life… a life without passion or feelings, just existing day to day.

He had never even said “I Love You” to his wife. He said something like “537” which they both understood to mean: “I Love You” but he had never actually said the words.

As we delved deeper it transpired that this lack of passion and just existing was too much for him and he wanted die by suicide. He was in the suicide river and had been planning how to kill himself.

Ironically (in a good way) his depression was the thing that stopped him carrying it out. His “couldn’t be bothered” attitude (from being depressed) had kept him alive long enough so I could talk with him.

I began to explore to find his turning point. We finally discovered that his wife, and wanting kids, was his turning point. I enquired how he thought his wife would react if he had died by suicide. He pondered this for a while and I could see that he had not really thought about how she would react or feel.

As he talked more I saw that he wanted to have children. Working this aspect of the wife and wanting a kid I got him to agree that this really was worth staying alive for. He agreed to stay alive for NOW and that we work out a plan for the next few months of his life.

I coached him in how to be passionate and feel again or for the first time. I asked him, “What would being passionate or expressing feeling look like for you?” We also looked at the fears surrounding expressing those feelings, and how they would affect him and his wife.

We worked on a step by step plan for him to follow. One of those action steps was to actually say the words “I Love You” to his wife. It took a few days for him to overcome the fear, but he did it. He was elated at how that had changed things in his marriage. He also saw that if it worked in the one area of his life then it would work in the other areas of his life. I assured him it would, and together we set out action steps for him to take.

Robots

Robots are machines. Robots are cold, heartless, emotionless creations who are void of the capacity to love. Their responses are all completely programmed responses. They just go through the motions and they are not really alive or living beings. They are incapable of doing anything from an emotional stance.

My 16 Year Old Robot Client

Loneliness and depression were the only “Friends” of a 16 year old lad when I encountered him. Constant bullying in school and on his street drove him to listen to many lies of those around him. He was like King Kong on top of the Empire State building and the planes attacking him were the lies. Their only purpose was to destroy him.

The lies of…

  • “You’re not good enough.
  • No-one will miss you when you are gone.
  • It’s better if I just end it all now”

…ripped into him like searing bullets.

He was a paradox as he had trained in Martial Arts and had a lot of power but due to the bullying he was “neutralized”, rendered powerless.

Out of desperation he began to think about and plan the different ways he could die. Everything seemed so bleak. In the end he had decided that he would slit his wrists at work.

I encountered him at this point.  I asked for and listened to his story. He had lost all hope. Finding the turning point was hard as there seemed nothing left for him to live for.

“There must be something worth living for”.

I kept on saying to him:  “There must be something worth living for”.

As that resounded in his head it must have broke through his defences as his face and posture began to change. One of the signs of finding the turning point is watching the face, body and voice change. I noticed this.

“Is this something that can keep you alive for now, even if you don’t know what it is at this moment?” My question hit home and I could see relax a little. A smile began to appear,

“Yeah! I think it is”, he responded.

He had been reached. Now he didn’t know what it was but he accepted that there really must be something to live for.

The next step was taking him through the process of discovering any goals or dream he had buried deep within him. We worked on “The Wheel of Life” to find out the direction for his life. This was slow because he really didn’t know what he wanted to do or how he was going to achieve it.

I never rushed him but took the conversation at his pace. Some time later he realized that he could help other people and that became his purpose.

Shipwrecked Clients

A person who is shipwrecked is a person in the ocean, treading water desperately clinging onto the bit of driftwood for dear life. Their ship has been smashed and obliterated by the storm. Everything is broken, sunk or floating away in the ocean.

They don’t know if they will survive or if their strength will fail them. They have lost everything and are still being battered by the relentless storm. These people in desperate situations have given up all hope in life ever improving.

Have you ever been so desperate and depressed, so crushed and broken that the only way to stop that much physical, mental and emotional pain was to end your life?

My Shipwrecked Client – A Case of Abuse

A young lady in her early 20’s was in this situation. It had begun while she was still in the womb, as her mother flat out rejected her as she was an unplanned pregnancy. She had endured every kind of abuse from her father and her brother. Her self esteem, her confidence and her identity had been brutally stripped away from her.

Friendless, she drifted through life. She had attempted suicide before and was looking for another opportunity to finish the job.

“Er, Excuse me, your rejection is showing!”

When I met her she wore rejection like a coat. I approached her and said, “Er, Excuse me, your rejection is showing!”

When you know what you are looking for you can see it in people. She was shocked and taken aback by my statement and didn’t know what to say.

Finally she stuttered, “What?”

I apologized and explained my statement. I shared how I could see that she was in so much pain and suffered from rejection.  As I felt that in this situation I could do this, I shared with her that I felt she had been abused. It was a strong instinct.  I profusely apologised if I was wrong.

In utter disbelief and trepidation she acknowledged that she had been abused. I carried on:

“You are drowning in despair and depression and you are plagued with suicidal thoughts and tendencies.”

An extremely shocked, speechless lady looked upon me with astonishment.

“How do you know everything about my life when we have just met?”

“How do you know everything about my life when we have just met?” she spluttered.

“Because there is hope for your life. There is hope for you and you don’t have to stay in these chains. You can be free from this pain without having to kill yourself.”

Tears rolled down her cheeks.

I had found her turning point. I had shown her love and kindness.  It was the first time she had felt that, and was blown away by it.  A total stranger showing her this much kindness and wanting nothing in return.  Believing in her, and that she could be free… this broke her negative thought pattern, and the downward spiral of depression (at least long enough for her listen to me).

She had had a shimmer of hope which had broken through the darkness. I signposted her to a counsellor to deal with the traumatic life she had endured. Over a number of sessions I coached her into discovering her real identity and building up her confidence. The change in her was drastic because her life had been drastic.

Champion Clients

Champions are those who have “overcome” or are learning the lessons that are needed to overcome. These are the ones who battle on through until they are on the path of victory.

Are these people ever tempted to give up, throw in the towel?

YES!

In reality, it is quite likely that they will have more days where they are “Not in a good place”.

They could just as well get depressed again.  However they have learned two very important things:

  • Their true Identity and who they really are.
  • That there is a purpose for their lives.

These are key factors in dealing with Depression and Suicide. These key factors are paramount in keeping depression and suicide at bay.

WHY?

There is nothing more powerful than a person knowing who they are and their purpose in life. With Life Coaching, they will forge a way forward with the right mindset and tools to be equipped for life.

A lady in her late 60’s who had a very full and rich life opened up about her struggles with suicide. She had been very successful and had a great impact upon a lot of people’s lives.

Her worry was that she would not be able to impact people’s live once she retired. She was worried that she was lost.

This led onto suicidal thoughts.

People around her only saw her successes and what she did.  No one ever noticed the pain and years of silent suffering. She felt she had no one to talk to and society had only compounded it and reinforced that sense of taboo. Finally, she had got to a place of trust where she felt “safe” enough to share her pain with me.

As I asked where this lady was in regards to the river she confirmed that she had only had suicidal thoughts but had not carried through to the planning stage.

It soon became apparent that the cause of this was the looming retirement and the feeling of being useless. She had spent her entire life helping people and now how would she be able to cope with the future?

I used a “Coaching Map” to help her figure out what her role would be in the community. I got her to list her goals and we put them in order of priority.

At first she didn’t really know what those goals could be, but the more questions I asked, the more she realised areas where she still could be useful in her community. Excitement began to rise as she realised more and more the areas where she could still impact people’s lives. As this realisation grew her fears began to melt away. Having a renewed purpose also gave her a renewed desire to live.

People need to be built up after they have been in the “suicide river”. A major aspect of Depression and Suicide Coaching is instilling “Resilience” into people’s heart, mind, and soul. I hope this small glimpse into what a Depression and Suicide Coach does, has inspired you.

Give this strategy a try and see for yourself that it works. If you liked this coaching tip, leave a comment or use the handy bookmark buttons below to share it with others on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. Thanks!

Kevin Hill
Suicide Intervention Coach, Grim Reaper Ain’t a Keeper
Guest Contributor, Coaches Training Blog Community

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Comments

  1. Nicole says

    Yes it did inspire me. What an emotional and touching post you got there Kevin. I do hope people will hire more coaches like this.

  2. Kevin Hill says

    Hi Nicole
    Thank you I hope too that more people will become aware of this whole arena of Mental Health, Depression and Suicide.

  3. Lori says

    I’m a life coach, and currently coaching a depressed young lady, who has said more than once that she wants to die. I do get her to see a therapist. Your articles were so helpful. Thank you.

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