The Treatment of Suicidal Behavior

  • Arthur Freeman
  • David M. White


Suicide, whether an act of planned self-destruction or a passive act of allowing one’s demise, has meaning not only for the patient and his or her family but for the therapist as well. Even the most experienced therapist will react with an adrenaline surge when it becomes clear that a patient has placed a time limit on his or her life. The patient might communicate the suicidal intention in any number of ways. The patient might have difficulty controlling impulses: “I can’t stop myself. I sit at the table with the knife pressed to my belly and start pressing in.” The patient may wish to punish someone: “I’m waiting until he graduates, and then, on the night of his party, I’ll kill myself.” Or the patient’s anniversary date might seem an auspicious moment to die: “My husband died a year ago. I’ve been too long without him...” Given the severity of its consequence, it is essential that the therapist have an understanding of the causes, assessment, process, and treatment of suicidal behavior so that effective problem solutions can be initiated immediately.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur Freeman
    • 1
  • David M. White
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Cognitive Therapy, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mental Health SciencesHahnemann UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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