I got a text this morning that one of my ex-clients committed suicide. I no longer work at the facility where she was at, she was just a young teenager with a very big story on her shoulders. When I read the text I wondered, if I had still been there (she was in a residential facility) would she have done it? Could I have helped her want to live? There are so many thoughts going through my mind. What brings a teenager to the point where they want to die. She hung herself. I feel so bad about her loss. I remember her as a very attention seeking, loveable girl. She ALWAYS wanted a session. Daily she would say "Miss Kim can I have a quick session Please!!!" I saw her a lot, she covered her pain and sadness with attention seeking behaviors.
Yes, with her life's story I think I would be suicidal too, but she was getting better when I was there. Nothing can be done to help her now but I can take what I learned about her and help apply it to my current clients and help keep them safe. I know as a counselor and we all know that if someone really wants to kill themselves they will do it and not tell. But the clients who admit to having suicidal thoughts want help! I currently have a client in the psychiatric ward because she wants to die. Like my ex-client who did die, my client has a life's story that would make anyone want to kill themselves! I can do my best to instill hope.
I wanted to share these thoughts in hope that other counselors will take the suicidal threats seriously and help to prevent suicide by taking clients seriously and helping them through their tough times. This death is a wake up call for me to really listen to those attention seeking clients, they have a story and they are looking for attention for a reason.
Kimberly Beck is a counselor and a doctoral candidate with a special interest in Self-injury. Other interests are PTSD, trauma, and Borderline personality disorder