About Me

My photo
To listen to my latest recording, view my complete profile and then click on "audio clip" under "links"

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Danger Of Minimizing

Among the courses I developed and taught during my years doing adult education was one entitled "Adolescent Depression and Suicide". I have a reasonably clear recollection of the content of that six hour course, the usual audience being folks who worked in child protective services.

"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem". That specific teaching point from the course - one I repeatedly delivered, reflecting the conventional wisdom about suicide at that time - seemed logical and appropriate, almost self-evident. The statement now strikes me as glib, at best. It is almost surely wrongheaded. How helpful can it be to someone in a suicidal crisis to be informed their problems are "temporary"? Even worse is teaching people who might be in a position one day to intervene in a suicidal situation to discount another person's pain this way. Were I developing the curriculum today for that course, especially considering recent events and the alarming increase in suicide among all age groups over the last twenty years, I would jettison that teaching point.

What might I use instead? I'd require all students to read the op-ed below, written by Kevin Powers - author of the transcendent novel "The Yellow Birds"- that appeared in this past Sunday's NY Times. Then I'd lead a discussion on empathy and the potential danger of minimizing.


No comments:

Post a Comment