The Talk That Saves Lives Masterclass:
How To Talk About Suicide and Keep Your Sanity
The Talk That Saves Lives
You need this guide because . . .
We’ve found that there's one in every room.
In every room you walk into, in-person or online, there’s at least one person grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide and in every room there’s at least one person struggling to stay alive. The challenge:
“You can’t tell by looking.”
You can't tell by looking who's at risk, who’s grieving, or who's struggling. You can’t tell by looking who’s happy or who’s masking. You can’t tell by looking who’s coping and who’s lying.
You can’t tell by looking who’s a little down or who’s so down they’ve forgotten what up feels like. So, instead of waiting for signs. (which we believe is looking for trouble,) we recommend a totally positive, proactive approach.
We want you to have “The Talk” before you think it’s needed, before you think your loved one is struggling.
Taking a pure-prevention approach creates a buffer between your loved ones and an edge they may not even know they’re near.
We know it’s tough to bring it up. We know that it’s scary to open this can of worms. We've heard it all and the myth that you could put the thought of suicide inside their heads is costing us a generation. Our teens KNOW suicide. And many of them are afraid to talk about how they’re feeling except in the most damaging ways possible . . .
Did you know that teens call suicide: “self-deleting”? That’s right, self-deleting as if it's no big deal. No different than hitting the delete key on a keyboard or ending a video game.
However, ending this game, the one we call Life, is a little different.
1. It’s permanent.
2. When one person takes their own life, they massively impact a minimum of 20 people who care about them.
3. Worse, when one person takes their own life, they give tacit permission for everyone who knows them to do the same. This is why suicide is considered a contagious dis-ease.
4. Finally, odds are, those who knew them best will be saying: “We never saw it coming.”
“We never saw it coming” are the five saddest words in the human language. We never want you to hear these words said about a loved one. We never, ever want you to say these words about a loved one. AND we never, ever, ever want your friends or loved ones to say them about YOU.
We want you to know that we’ve got your back, we’re not going to send you to start this
All we need to know is, are you willing?
Are you willing to break the silence and give them a fighting chance?
Thank you. Ready?
The key to having The Talk with confidence is to simply follow the guide.
Your life-saving conversation starts with The Invitation.
The Invitation and The Talk are precisely formulated to work with how our brains really work. Both are neuroscience based and designed using a specific reflection technology that activates the mirror neurons in the brain and builds an emotional buffer around both your loved one, and you.
The Talk That Saves Lives was first introduced January 16, 2021, at TEDx TenayaPaseo in Las Vegas.
Over 90,000 viewers have had their mirror neurons activated when they watched: Have “The Talk” to Stop Teen Suicide. Since then, The Talk That Saves Lives has been delivered on 100s of stages to 1,000s of listeners. And each one of them has a bit more of a buffer after hearing it.
But the real magic happens when you have The Talk one-on-one.
Let’s get started. Practice first. Read ALL of the italicized words out loud by yourself first and then practice with a family member or good friend. Be honest and direct. Speak your truth. Read it directly from the guide and you won’t ever have to figure out what to say. We’ve done that for you.
Note: Where you see the word “teen*” feel free to substitute the relevant description. i.e.: veteran, first responder, LGBTQ+, traumatic brain injury, etc.
Hi, I’ve joined the mission to end teen* suicide. They gave me a guide. I need to
practice. Would you have a few minutes to help me practice my guide? It’ll only take about 5 minutes.
Wait for them to respond. It’s great if they want to make a plan for a different time or day. The Talk can be spontaneous or pre-planned. When it’s time, start with showing appreciation and sharing the rules.
Thank you for agreeing to help me practice the guide that saves lives. I’m going to be reading it to you so that I don’t miss anything. There are only four questions and one rule.
The rule: For the first three questions you can only answer “Yes” or “No.” Then on
the fourth question you can tell me as much as you want. Sound good?
Wait for them to agree before continuing.
Thank you. Ok, here we go. Remember you can only answer “Yes” or “No.”
Question one: Have you heard about the rise in teen suicides?
Wait for them to respond before continuing. Until after all the questions have been answered, no matter what they say, you only respond by saying: “Thank you” and nothing else.
Question two: Do you have a story; do you have a friend who’s tried or died?
Wait for them to respond before continuing. Remember you only respond with: “Thank you,” nothing more, no matter what they say and no matter if they follow the rule of only saying “Yes” or “No” or not. The questions are written in specific, trigger-neutral language. That’s why you always read them from the guide. It’s important to NEVER wing it when having The Talk.
Question three: Have you ever thought of leaving that way? *
Wait for them to respond. Breathe. No matter what they say, respond only with: “Thank you.”
Question four: Why stay? What are your reasons for staying? **
Smile! Listen. Prompt. Keep them talking about their reasons for staying by prompting with:
Tell me more.
Smile even more. Listen. If they start to slow down prompt for more with:
What’s so good about your life that you want more of it?
Smile more. Listen more. Resist sharing your own reasons for staying unless they ask you. This is their time and what you’ll be witnessing will be amazing. When they’re done, respond with:
Thank you. I loved what you shared about… [insert one of their reasons for staying.]
If they ask, you can share about the mission to end suicide. You can tell them about how to get their own guide from the website: www.TeenSuicidePreventionSociety.com.
You can help them find more reasons for staying.
When you’re finished with The Talk, please share with them how we feel about YOU:
Thank you for playing. Thank you for staying. AND most importantly, thank you for being you and doing what you do. What you do is important and who you are is AMAZING!
*Note: If your loved one has thoughts of leaving, don’t panic.
Thoughts of leaving are normal. They’re part of the natural negative bias, worst-case scenario, problem-solving mechanism in our brains. Thoughts of leaving are only a problem if they hang around and form what we call a “negative echo chamber.”
**Note: If your loved one has thoughts of leaving and zero reasons for staying, please stay with them and call 988 or your local suicide intervention hotline. If they refuse to talk to an intervention specialist at the hotline, stay with them and call 911 or your local police department’s emergency number. Oh, they may hate you for it, and it’ll be worth it if it helps them stay.
Disclaimer: Out of 1,000s of talks, the number of times someone has had the combination of thoughts of leaving and zero reasons for staying is ZERO. Our brains are hardwired to answer questions. This means that your loved one’s brain will come up with reasons for staying when you ask Question Four. It has to, we’re just wired that way, and every answer you hear builds out a bigger buffer between your loved one and an edge you may not have even known was near. Even if they’re lying.
How The Talk Rewires Brains:
Here’s a quick overview of how The Talk builds out a mental buffer.
The first three questions activate and then agitate all the angst your loved one has on the topic of suicide. The questions are closed-ended to keep your loved ones from going into their painful stories. Once agitated there’s a lot of emotionally charged neural-electrical activity happening in the brain.
You only respond to their answers with “Thank you” to prevent probing and accidentally saying something triggering or traumatizing.
The minute you ask Question Four, their brain takes all of that emotionally-charged neural-electricity and redirects it into the search for their reasons for staying. What happens in their brains as soon as your loved one starts sharing the answers to Question Four is nothing short of magic. With the first answer, the brain builds out a new neural pathway. Then, as you probe and your loved one keeps coming up with additional reasons for staying, the brain builds out branches and eventually a whole neural network is constructed. It’s similar to having a mental file folder, labeled: “Reasons for Staying.”
What’s so good about this new neural network is that the filter in the brain known as the Reticular Activating System, or (“RAS”), gets recalibrated so that now when a naturally occurring thought of leaving comes up, it bumps up against this new mental file folder, labeled Reasons for Staying and the thought of leaving is less likely to stay around.
We believe there’s a second benefit of using this guide and having The Talk. The second benefit comes from another brain-thing called “mirror neurons.” Thanks to mirror neurons, when your loved ones start sharing their reasons for staying, your brain starts matching up your own reasons for staying at the same time. This builds out a buffer between you and the edge as well. Truly a win-win.
We highly recommend having as many Talks as you can.
Who to have The Talk with
Here’s an easy way to know who to have The Talk with.
Simply write down the names of all the people you would call to share about a new restaurant or to celebrate receiving a promotion or winning an award.
Then call each one in turn and invite them to help you practice this guide.
The more you practice with your friends and loved ones, the more emotionally resilient your whole tribe will become.
There are more great things in store for you over at the website. To learn more about the mission and check out the resources visit www.TeenSuicidePreventionSociety.com
A thought to ponder; we’re actively seeking teachers, preachers, healers, and parents willing to build their own emotional intelligence and resilience and then take this guide and our other tools into groups and schools.
If you’re interested and want to know more, please book a call to see how increasing emotional intelligence and resilience will make a positive difference in your world. You can book your 20-minute call at: https://SuccessJourneyAcademy.as.me/Get-To-Know-Jackie
What we’ve found is that increasing your ability to communicate in an emotionally intelligent way improves all your relationships.
Details on the Advocates for Living course are available on the “Programs” tab on the website www.TeenSuicidePreventionSociety.com
100% of the proceeds are used to fulfill the mission to make teen suicide a thing of the past.
Thank you again for being you. Thank you for caring enough to read this guide, and most of all thank you for staying.