Suicide Counselors are needed who are specially trained in helping individuals struggling with thoughts of suicide. Also, counselors are needed who can help those grieving the loss of someone who has committed suicide.
While all counselors are required to have quality training in counseling clients at risk of suicide, some counselors specialize in suicide counseling. Suicide counseling encompasses counseling those who are at risk of committing suicide, including those clients who have actually attempted suicide. Counseling survivors of attempted suicides is as important as counseling families of loved ones who have died by suicide. The closest friends and family of suicide victims can be left with profound feelings of guilt and loss. Suicide counselors help prevent future suicides and can help anyone who is going through the grief of losing someone to suicide.
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Professionally trained counselors implement various forms of therapy to assist their clients in this category. Every client is different. The counselor’s goal is to tailor-make a therapy plan that is in accord with each patient’s needs.
Mental health counselors can effectively orchestrate safety plans for those clients who are high risk for suicide. Ensuring safety is the top priority in these cases.
Suicide can occur in populations that are not traditionally known for mental illness. Challenging life events or intense grief can precipitate a suicide attempt. There was a recent case in which a man, whose wife had died a tragic death, committed suicide due to his grief. Young people who have been bullied by peers are also at risk for suicide.
Many times there is a correlation between suicides, or attempted suicides, and major mental illnesses. Counselors working with these populations should develop keen insights into their clients’ risk factors and thought patterns. An example is that those with a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder can be at higher risk for suicide. Counselors work best when they are well-versed in various diagnoses and the risks affiliated with each one.
How to Become a Suicide Counselor
Mental health counseling mandates that you have a graduate degree. Students are able to enroll in a 60 unit CACREP-accredited mental health counseling program or a program that is in a closely-related field.
Counselors with great interest in this field at the highest levels can pursue doctoral degrees. Many have chosen to pursue research or work on special assignments while within the Master’s level of schooling. Psychology and Social Work are logical places to start for undergraduate majors; both are logical preliminary studies for this line of work. Aspiring counselors have the option of working at clinics, hospitals, or through certain crisis hotlines. Getting the right volunteer training can bolster your application materials and give you real world experience to convince you that this is the right field for you. There is a very beneficial organization, The American Association of Suicidology, that provides students a chance to intern and gain invaluable experience.
Counselors are well-advised to remain aware of continuing education opportunities prevention of suicide and counseling for those impacted by suicide. The more education you get, the more options you will have in your career.
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center is a great resource.
Suicide Counselor Licensure
State licensing is available for mental health counselors and additional mental health providers. A period of supervised work experience is usually required for licensure at the highest levels. Licensing exams are usually be required.
Salary and Career Outlook for Suicide Counselors
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average mental health counselor earns between $36,570 and $69,900 per year.