A few thoughts
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 21:15:07 -0500
A few postings questioned whether we should have a program to deal with
suicide and post-suicide situations expressing concerns that we are not
mental health professionals and noting that there are large organizations
for dealing with this.
Whether we have training or not, a leader confronted with one of these
situations is going to act in some manner - even trying to ignore a
situation is an action. Some will do things that are not productive or
even counter-productive as things stand now. Some will have natural
instincts that are good. Others will listen and do some first aid
counselling. Still others will help by showing compassion.
If we have better information and more hints out there for leaders,
perhaps more leaders would be likely to do things that are helpful and
less likely to be damaging.
Is this a substitute for existing programs and mental health professionals.
Absolutely not. I think what we are talking about is how a person on the
front line working with a boy can be the starting point or if necessary
the bridge to other resources.
It is easy to compartmentalize society and say well - there are
organizations out there to do this. Somehow, I don't see Billy Scout
going on his own knocking on the sterile doors of some strange building
wanting to talk to strangers about a problem he may not even understand
he should talk about. But Billy does know his Scoutmaster and may talk,
if the Scoutmaster listens and talking may help get the ball rolling. If
this is the person Billy might talk to, then wouldn't it be better, if
the Scoutmaster knew a little more about what he should do and should do
Crisis intervention counselors that I've know tell me that often times a
lot of grief gets handled best when a person talks with people he/she
knows and doesn't always need to go to professional intervention. Many
times these counselors are called in to a school or workplace and provide
on the spot help and facilitation to people touched by tragedy. Almost
immediately they encourage folks close to the deceased to talk to each
other and express their feelings and teach all involved to allow others
to express feelings without being critical.
If a leader understands some of the basics, he/she might be more willing
to listen and comfort non-critically, which in and of itself is a help.
If the leader also knows the limits, it is more likely that he/she might
also facilitate or bridge to other resource people like a crisis
counsellor while at the same time having a better idea of how to talk
with parents about what is going on.
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
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