Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.

Viktor E. Frankl

What is to give light must endure the burning.

Adolescents have as a rule sensitive antennas for authenticity and continuity of the offered relationship and readily test reference persons in this respect. Discretion and secrecy have even greater significance than in the case with adults. Adolescents should be confident that the matter discussed will not be disclosed to a third party. When it is not possible because of the framework conditions, it should be clearly stated what information has to be disclosed and in which form it will take place.

It can be often difficult to estimate the potential danger because adolescents generally tend to mood swings, oversized ideas, occasional loss of reference to reality and seeing everything in black or in white (Berger, 1999). That is why indirect indications such as symbolic (drawings) or written expressions should be particularly taken into account when estimating the risk. In no case may it be overlooked that adolescents tend to exaggerate or conceal situations and conflicts.

Especially in the case of risk of suicide among adolescents, it is appropriate to give a view of the scenes and perspectives of death, as suicide never solves a problem, it is by no means – as Frankl stressed – an answer to any question.

“We must clearly show him how much he resembles a chess player who faces an over-challenging chess problem and throws the pieces from the board.”

In this case the misfortune always grows and the problem can be possibly expanded on further generations.

“And the same way as that chess player not keeping to the game rules, the person who commits suicide violates the rules of life.  These game rules do not demand from us to win at all costs, they demand to never give up fighting.”
(Viktor E. Frankl)


Frankl's appeal:
“Besides, who knows, may be several hours after the suicide the problem would have been solved?”

He also rejects suicide as a “consciously brought sacrifice”.

To prevent suicides, Viktor E. Frankl names in particular the following attitudes:

  • with regard to spiritual dimension – suicide prophylaxis – to get rid of the respective spiritual cause of unhappiness and thus to eliminate the motive for suicide
  • with regard to mental dimension – attitude modulation – to be not only capable of living without the missing thing but also to grow beyond this.

Orbach (1990) represents the view that it is reasonable to enhance the fear of death during a straight talk. The suicidal thoughts are though accepted and not condemned but the reality and irreversibility of death should be made clear to the young person, because those fearless of death but scared of life (Frankl) are never conscious of the fact that they will be actually dead then – since they search merely for ease and safety, and wish that “this at last comes to an end”.

It is considered to be proven that suicides are committed very rarely if a straight therapeutic relationship is established. The possibility to unburden one's heart and the experience of the genuinely caring and worrying psychotherapists mostly make suicides abate considerably. “To grow and to be a part of something are basic motivations of life” (Gerald Huether).

The  treatment of the current conflict has the highest priority. Taking small observable steps towards solving the problem and acquiring self-confidence gives hope for the next future. In this respect, assuming responsibility for the own deeds and actions is encouraged.

Also, the impact of the suicide on those alive should be made clear to the suicidal person – e.g. the burden especially for close relatives and friends – but also the negative role model for other people in suicidal crises!