The Suicidal Thoughts Workbook by Kathryn Hope Gordon aims to support people experiencing thoughts of suicide to help manage their emotional pain, drawing on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) strategies.
The book begins by guiding the reader through worksheets to reflect on reactions to the suicidal thoughts and identify risk factors and elements in the environment that may contribute. There are also worksheets to identify social supports and prepare a crisis plan. The author describes the Three-Step Theory, which I hadn’t heard of before, to help readers understand how suicide can arise from pain, hopelessness, and loss of connection.
CBT techniques that are covered include problem-solving approaches, reframing negative thoughts, and changing attributions. Mindfulness is also incorporated. The acronym HOPE is used to group various strategies as help-seeking, optimism, changing perspective, and attending to emotions.
The chapter on relationships made me cringe a little bit. One of the suggestions was that if you feel lonely, you could try meeting people on a dating app. I met with a therapist once who suggested I start dating to deal with my depression, which seemed wildly inappropriate. The book also talked about strengthening old and creating new relationships, and joining a community choir was one of the suggestions. I can see where the author is trying to go, but really, there’s a time and a place, and I’m not convinced this is it.
There was a suggestion that instead of daydreaming about suicide, you should try daydreaming about something you’re looking forward to. I’m not a daydreamer, and maybe this is just me, but when I’m suicidal, there’s sweet bugger-all that I’m looking forward to, with perhaps the exception of being dead. If I was looking forward to something, would I really be wanting to off myself?
I think this author was trying to be kind and gentle and compassionate. I found the thanking and the praising a bit much, but then I’m probably a cynical old goat. This book is written for an audience that needs kind and gentle, not so much for people like me who’ve been around the block a few times and have the cynicism to show for it. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I think it would do a good job of serving the audience that it’s (not explicitly) aimed at.
The Suicidal Thoughts Workbook is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.
The Straight Talk on Suicide page has crisis and safety planning resources, along with info on suicide-related topics from the perspective of someone who’s been there.