‘Doctor! I am going to commit suicide!’
The medical helpline number rings at half past midnight. The sleepy executive gets alert hearing the voice other side. ‘’Doctor! I am going to commit suicide! I am Mukesh V from Bengaluru. I am well placed as a senior software developer. Around 6 months back, I had a breakup with my long-term partner. Since then, I am in severe depression. I am not able to sleep well. Life is no longer worth living. I got your number while surfing my partner’s Facebook page for the last time and decided to make this last call of my life. I wish there lie an alternative to suicide, but I can’t see any!”
Now, the really anxious executive of the medical helpline has a challenge. He doesn’t have any means to save a life other than the tact of using this phone call to morph the decision of the person on the other side. Mostly, suicides are committed in a moment of rage. There occurs the verge where the person finds himself worthless and decides to end this life.
If this moment is somehow surpassed, things are likely to improve. So, the executive tactfully starts the conversation with emotionally neutral questions about the caller’s profession and educational qualifications. Then the speech gradually streams towards the current emotional turmoil. Loneliness, work occupations, hobbies, family support etc. are some of the topics discussed.
This was the effort on the part of the counsellor, not to get judgmental about the person. A shocked response of the counsellor may get the person disconnect the phone call. He shows unconditional positive regard, due respect and empathetic understanding towards the caller so that he lowers his mental defence mechanism and releases his pent up frustration.
When the person reveals his true emotions, the counsellor doesn’t impose his evaluation. To demonstrate his empathy, the counsellor tries to give the client a feeling that he understands him well and tries to examine the things from his angle. Warmth and genuineness has to be exhibited. The caller should get the feeling that the counsellor is truly interested in his welfare and is not simply a professional working for the money.
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After an hour of mindboggling strenuous counselling, the person shows some positive outlook as he feels that he has got a genuine friend in the form of this counsellor. He promises the executive to drop his idea of suicide and give him a call tomorrow morning. However, the executive gets his sleepless night thinking about the future course of action of that guy. To his utter relief, he gets the call from Mukesh next morning, asking him to suggest a good psychiatrist who could help him move out of this emotional turmoil.
A life saved!
A life gained!