Feb. 14, 2022

Why we should talk more about chronic suicidal thoughts and feelings in BPD

Why we should talk more about chronic suicidal thoughts and feelings in BPD

The popular image of someone in danger of suicide goes like this: A person has suicidal thoughts. It’s a crisis. The person gets help, and the crisis resolves within days or weeks. That’s the popular image, and thankfully it does happen for many people. But for others, suicidal thoughts do not go away. Their suicidal thoughts become chronic. Chronic suicidal thoughts are common in borderline personality disorder (BPD / EUPD.) The mental health care system in the United States was set up with acute (and not chronic) suicidality in mind, which means many individuals aren’t getting the kind of help they need. 


In today’s episode, I sit down with licensed clinical social worker Catherine Humenuk, who specializes in BPD, CPTSD, and addiction. Before practicing privately, Catherine spent five years working in emergency rooms managing risk assessments and involuntary commitments for individuals with recent suicidal ideation/attempts.

Trigger Warning: this episode discusses suicide and suicidal ideation, and some people might find it disturbing. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please, contact your physician, go to your local ER, or call the suicide prevention hotline in your country. A list of suicide hotlines for most countries can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines


💡 Questions answered and topics discussed in this episode:

• Understanding the difference between acute and chronic suicidality and how the latter is managed slightly differently

• How it can be unhelpful or even escalate behavior if chronically suicidal individuals are hospitalized

• How the current mental health system in the US is not set up to best help chronically suicidal individuals, leaving some mental health professionals “burnt out, hardened, and jaded”

• How to identify someone who is at an immediate (acute) high risk of suicide and the best interventions to use to ensure immediate safety

• Understanding why some individuals have chronic suicidal thoughts/intent

• How we can learn to empathize with the suicidal wishes of our loved ones with BPD/cPTSD while simultaneously instilling hope for change

• How emergency rooms assess suicidal risk with chronically suicidal clients

• Understanding alternatives to hospitalization and how to identify when hospitalization is necessary

• Why some mental health professionals consider people with BPD “high risk” and will refuse to work with them at all (and how to resiliently overcome this stigma)

• Why certain mental health professionals (including Catherine) choose not to take health insurance (the answer may surprise you)

• Mollie & Catherine’s personal experiences with suicidal ideation and how these feelings are more common than you might think (and a message of hope)


📝Recommended resources:

Catherine's safety plan blog post: https://bpdeducation.com/blog/f/safety-planning-and-crisis-kits


Connect with Catherine at https://catherinehumenuklcsw.com/.

Disclaimer: information contained in this podcast episode is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment or consultation with a licensed mental health professional. 


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