New Group Brings Suicide Out of the Shadows for Professionals in Crisis Patients

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
A new suicide resiliency psychoeducational group gives patients in The Menninger Clinic’s Professionals in Crisis Program (PIC) an outlet for their suicidal thoughts and feelings.
“Talking about suicide brings it out of the shadows,” said Michael Groat, PhD, director of PIC, adding that many patients fear discussing suicide, even in a mental health setting. They worry that they will be treated with “kid gloves,” and they don’t want to frighten their therapist or fellow patients.
Yet when patients hear others share their suicidal thoughts, it helps relieve their pain.
“That kind of empathetic reception is healing,” Dr. Groat said. “It is one of the most powerful ways to relieve the distress that leads to suicidal despair.”
The group meets twice weekly and involves a variety of interventions designed to provoke discussion and examine the consequences of suicide. Many suicidal patients believe they will relieve a burden to their families and friends if they die. They learn the family’s perspective from group members who have lost a loved one to suicide. Patients also work together to solve problems and help each other discover reasons for living.
“People contemplating suicide tend to feel very alone,” Dr. Groat said. “Group support is an essential part of treating patients contemplating suicide because it helps them feel understood and comforted.”