Calming Down a Suicidal Client with the Help of EFT
EFT practitioner Sharon O'Hara, MFT, shares how she was able to "talk a client down" from his intention to commit suicide; EFT helped her calm him down without the use of drugs.
- Dawson Church
By Sharon O'Hara, MFT, LMFT
After a session with a relatively new client last week, the client called me up to say that he needed to go to a hospital because he felt suicidal.
This client (I'll call him John) had only been out of the hospital for about a month, and he had a history of multiple drug use and seven suicide attempts, not to mention a horrible history of sexual and physical abuse as a child. He was currently living in a halfway house for chemical dependency.
As a psychologist, I've been trained to handle suicide. In keeping with that training, I tried everything I could to get John back into the private hospital where he had been for 60 days. It was a Friday night, however, and the private hospital wanted $2,200 up front for a weekend stay alone. (John had exhausted a $50,000 trust fund to stay for those 60 days at that hospital. No more money was available to him.)
Though I tried, I was unable to get family members to help in any way, with money or with transportation. The other hospitalization option was the county hospital, which would be free. I checked with the halfway house where John was at the time to find out if someone there could drive him to the county hospital, but no one there had a car.
So I drove out to the halfway house and did EFT with John for 40 minutes.
John calmed down and said that he didn't feel suicidal. I was ready to call 911 and get the medics to take him to the hospital if it came to that, but he no longer felt that he needed to go.
Meanwhile, I got the halfway house folks to do a buddy system with him, I got him to agree to call me if he felt suicidal again, and I had him sign a no self-harm contract. He assured me that he was fine, that he had just been overwhelmed by a severe shame attack. He also stated that he had never felt that bad in the past and stayed sober. Ever.
So the moral is that 40 minutes of EFT saved him. It also saved him and the state several thousand dollars.
And if he had gone to the hospital, they would just have given him drugs, not much treatment, especially on the weekend in a county psychiatric ward. As it was, I used EFT as a last resort, but it turned out to be the best thing to do in this situation.
That said, if you don't have experience dealing with suicidal ideation, turn the situation over to someone who does.
If you or someone you know is at risk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a suicide crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.