By: Venée M. Hummel, LCSW
We have all grown up participating in fire safety drills. We understand that while the likelihood of being in a fire is low, there is great value to being prepared with prior practice because flames can quickly grow out of control and become deadly. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 3,655 deaths related to fires in 2018. Contrast this number against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 figures which report 47,511 deaths due to suicide. How much practice have you had in preparing for safety related to the emotional fires that can also quickly turn deadly? Likely a lot less.
At the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics at Centerstone, we are preparing to introduce a suicide prevention group geared exactly toward this need. In April, Lifeline – Tools To Put Out Emotional Fires, will begin meeting weekly with adults who need additional skills and support in navigating the road out of suffering and steering towards a life worth living. Our team recognizes that suicidal thoughts and actions are often in response to problems to seem unsolvable and emotions that feel too intense to tolerate. Over the course of eight weeks, group members will create their very own, personalized “emotional fire” safety plan while learning and practicing multiple skills to help hack suffering and stay safe when a crisis is building. As a continued parallel to fire safety, we will focus on both lifesaving intervention for times of crisis – when the flames are blazing; as well as prevention techniques to help keep problems and emotional intensity more manageable.
Lifeline is being offered as a group because we believe that in addition to learning new tools, people who experience suicidal thoughts and actions can also benefit from being a part of a supportive community. As a member of this small group, we hope participants will feel less alone in their challenges; will engage in collaborative troubleshooting; and will give and receive encouragement from one another. While the adults in this group will have various backgrounds and identities, we will all show up with common goals centered on decreasing emotional suffering and rebuilding a life of purpose and value.
With clinics in three states and the facilitators licensed in a number of additional states, we will be able to accept clients from a wide variety of places (Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas) and meet together weekly via telehealth to bridge the distance. As one of the facilitators of this group, it is my sincerest hope that through Lifeline we can begin to chip away at the stigma of discussing suicide. And that in doing so, we can equip more people to prepare for the possibility of a suicidal crisis. Every fire drill you have ever done at school or work has been worth it, in order to build up that muscle memory on what to do in the event that you smell smoke or hear the alarm go off. Your life is just as worth it to build up the skills and muscle memory for the fires we don’t talk about enough – the emotional fires that can ignite within us.
If you are interested in learning more about our new group, Lifeline – Tools To Put Out Emotional Fires. A Suicide Prevention Group for Adults, please contact any of our Cohen Military Family Clinics at Centerstone for more information and steps to get started.