Experts: Empathy key to reducing suicide rate

Rather than just putting people at risk for suicide on watch with a surveillance camera, the best strategy for stemming Montana’s highest-in-the-nation suicide rate may be found through what John Cutcliffe calls “warm, care-based, human-to-human contact….

Medication isn’t a panacea for suicide prevention either, Cutcliffe said. One in 10 people are on antidepressants, with no correlation of reduced rates of death by suicide. People who take a sugar pill and those who take an antidepressant have similar suicide rates.

“Is there an alternative? I’m happy to say yes, there is,” Cutcliffe said, citing the work of the Aeschi Working Group. People in helping professions who don’t know what to say should say nothing,

he advised — just listen.
“You can listen and empathize,” he said.
“I believe that is a skill set within all of you.”

 By Mike Ferguson