Suicide to Hope (s2H), a Living Works training focuses on providing tools for master clinicians working with clients struggling with ongoing suicidal ideation. Suicide to Hope focuses on growth and recovery from suicide. It is an “insert framework” that can be used in conjunction with any therapeutic modality or orientation. s2H is used for long-term therapy and is directed at clients who struggle with suicide but are not at imminent risk for dying by suicide.
As a student in a clinical mental health counseling masters program, every future clinician should train with Suicide to Hope. If we think of clients who struggle with suicide but are not at imminent risk, as being in a “gray” area of suicide, Suicide to Hope provides clarity, concrete tools, and a clinical framework to help us be who we need to be for clients.
Through my training in ASIST (another Living Works training), I felt much more comfortable with the idea of working with clients who have an active suicide plan (performing “suicide first aid” through the PAL framework, Pathway for Assisting Life), however still felt concerned about working with clients in this “gray” area of suicide.
I, like many practitioners, worried about not knowing how to help prevent a client from getting to a place of having an active suicide plan. It is scary that people can move so quickly from being in a “gray” area of suicide to having an active suicide plan. How do I prevent that from happening? What are the signs that someone is moving from passive suicidal thoughts to active ones? Being at “imminent risk”?
Suicide to Hope increased my confidence in answering these questions. Through my training with Suicide to Hope, I know that many clients are in this “gray” area because they feel stuck. Suicide to Hope illuminates the feeling “stuckness” and “core issues” clients struggle with that have previously gone unmet. Clients at risk of suicide are often hospitalized immediately, and we know from the research that the vast majority of clients are at increased risk post-hospitalization. Helping differentiate those who truly need hospitalization versus those that can engage in growth and recovery work was very powerful to me in my growth as a professional counselor.
Suicide to Hope provides clinicians with a step-by-step approach to working with “core issues” that have previously gone unmet, resulting in “stuckness.” s2H has three primary goals for working with such clients:
- Maintaining safety,
- Reducing future risk, and
- Improving the quality of life (growth through adversity).
Each of these goals is met by using the PaTH (Pathway to Hope) framework. By identifying a “core issue” that has previously gone unmet (i.e. relationships, meaning/purpose in life), clinicians are actually able to plan counseling and therapy that has been shown to be efficacious in addressing core needs.
There are five hope building principals master clinicians learn in s2H.
- Talking directly about suicide,
- How it came into the persons’ life,
- What happened just before,
- What happened after,
- What it meant to them, etc. is hope building.
Most of the time clinicians want to steer away from discussion about suicide, so chances are this person has not yet had an opportunity to talk about their attempt. We believe the keys to understanding the core issues are understood through suicide experiences. Going “through suicide” paradoxically builds hope when the core/unmet issue is named. Actually planning therapy to address the core issues also builds hope.
Further, making progress on the core issue builds hope, etc. Every clinician that completes the Suicide to Hope training is equipped and qualified to follow this blueprint with clients. Not only does Suicide to Hope provide the blueprint in the training, but it also provides tools that can be used in sessions with clients.
As a future clinical mental health counselor, I will refer to my knowledge from Suicide to Hope in working with suicidal clients.
Suicide to Hope focuses on preventing individuals from ever getting to a place of having an active suicide plan as they have truly grown through adversity. They are in a different place, ideally a place of optimal health and wellness at the conclusion of the therapy process.
Many of us in the training believed that we were going to learn a second type of “stabilization” model. It was illuminating to see a full therapeutic process geared at post-traumatic growth. This hopeful training provides helping professionals with the long-term tools needed to keep individuals safe, not just for now, but safe for good.