“If you’re going to win the war with suicide, at the end of the day you have to make their life worth living or be a part of the process that makes their life worth living.” –David Jobes (Past President of the American Association of Suicidology)
Research has found that people need meaning to thrive. Therefore, in the treatment of suicidal individuals the search for meaning in life is the most fundamental question to address. This workshop will explore the struggle that all people face in striving to develop a sense of self as an autonomous individual. Through lecture, discussion, and video clips from individuals who have lived experience having survived their own suicide attempts, the presenter will describe destructive forces operating within the self, the family, and society that limit or seriously damage people’s ability to search for their own personal meaning in life.
The process of developing a strong sense of self, or differentiation encompasses four tasks. A person needs to: (1) break with internalized thought processes, that is, the critical, hostile attitudes toward self and others; (2) alter the negative personality traits in oneself that represent an incorporation of the aversive traits of one’s parents; (3) identify and relinquish patterns of defense formed as an adaptation to painful events in one’s childhood; and (4) develop one’s own values, ideals, and beliefs rather than automatically accepting the beliefs of one’s culture or those one grew up with. It is also important to formulate transcendent goals, those that go beyond self and family, and take steps toward fulfilling goals that give meaning to one’s life.
The final group discussion will focus on what steps participants can take in their own lives to become stronger in their autonomous identity and have more meaningful lives.
This includes challenging your imagined limitations that may be creating barriers to a more fulfilling life. Through videotape excerpts, interactive exercises, and discussion, the presenter will illustrate principles which lead to an enduring satisfying existence, a life of meaning and compassion.