Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How To Tell The Difference Between A Cry for Help and Crying Wolf

A very dear friend and relative of a recent suicide victim suggested to me that I should write about the hazard of crying wolf.  Good idea, I thought.  She was inspired by the occasional posts from young people bluffing or "crying wolf".  And,  to be sure, I've personally witnessed a boy who, in private chat sessions with myself and another friend, talked very strongly about ending his life while simultaneously yucking it up with friends on a couple other pages.  In addition to that, I've personally had several instances where someone was talking serious suicidal talk yet became infuriated when people tried to step in and intervene.  What's the answer?

The fact of the matter is if we're serious about saving lives, if we're really dedicated to seeing the number of teen and gay-teen suicides decrease dramatically, we have to look at each individual threat equally.  We have to consider that every single time someone speaks of "ending it", there's a crisis that needs immediate attention...whether that person "wants" help or not.  I know that I am personally not trained to be able to distinguish the real threats from the ones "crying wolf".  And, I'd go as far as to say very few of us are.  As annoying as it can be dealing with someone who's simply crying wolf (and, trust me, being cussed out, called names, and belittled for your efforts can definitely be annoying!), I think it's essential for everyone to remember that even their lashing out is a huge, bright-red flag.

The bottom line is that we have to take every single threat seriously.  And, since precious few of us are professionals in this field, having readily available resources in times of crisis is essential.  The Glendon Association provides a lot of valuable information and other links.  Also, I would think that knowing the warning signs of teen suicide is also crucial.

The unfortunately high number of high-profile teen suicides over the past few months has brought needed attention to the severity of the situation.  Jonah Mowry's painful video of strength and courage intensified the spotlight.  Now, it's up to us, the compassionate ones seeking to make a difference, to be prepared when the moment arises.  And, trust me, it will.

1 comment:

  1. Another problem begins from crying wolf when the person does it so many times the people trying to help get annoyed. We want to save lives but we don’t want to be wasting our time with a drama queen when someone else really needs our help.
    It because extremely frustrating, especially when the person crying wolf isn’t really interested in taking that little extra step and getting help on their own. I believe in the “you can only help those who are willing to help themselves”. We listen to them, talk to them, find them a help/crisis center near them if we can, but it is up to them to make that call…to take that step. If they are that person who is one step from committing suicide we contact the police. We are not social workers.
    Like you I have seen this situation where they cry help and all they really want is the attention. This is ok if we have the time but quite often we are taking time out of work to deal with them. Or we might be missing out on helping the person who is one step from. I’ve also seen one person who didn’t want help. Became extremely agitated. Cursing. She just wanted to share. We do need to be careful that we aren’t being condescending to these people or have it sound like we are talking to a young child. They are individuals that should be treated with respect.