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“Why We Need to Talk About Suicide”: Lessons Learnt


Suicidal contemplations and actions remain taboo topics, which might hinder suicide prevention efforts. In his speech titled “Why We Need to Talk about Suicide,” Mark Henick exposes, criticizes, and explains the ongoing avoidance of this issue. This response paper’s purpose involves summarizing new learning from the video and remaining questions, comparing the presenter’s points to information from the textbook, and developing a Bible-informed approach to suicide prevention.

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Insightful Response to the Video

New Information Acquired Due to the Video

The presenter introduces multiple points that are new knowledge for me. He aims to link suicidal thoughts and attempts with perceptual changes and a person’s tendency to get stuck in traumatic experiences and thoughts. Specifically, Mr. Henick argues that a person’s perceptual ability tends to expand and contract in response to external stressors and experiences, and remaining in the “contracted” state contributes to mental illness (TEDxTalks, 2013). From the description of the presenter’s own suicide attempt as a teenager, I learned the concept of “instinctual hope.” It is the desire to find reassuring circumstances and opportunities that exists in the mind of a suicidal person, sometimes leading to decisions to postpone suicide attempts (TEDxTalks, 2013). Based on his life experiences, Mr. Henick also argues that a mentally ill individual can perceive suicide attempts as the only opportunity to feel in control of her or his life (TEDxTalks, 2013). The speaker opposes attitudes to suicide as a choice and claims that 90% of individuals dying by suicide have treatable mental illnesses (TEDxTalks, 2013). Therefore, the video offers learning opportunities to those with no personal experience with suicidal thoughts.

Points in the Video and the Course Textbook

Some points addressed in the video find support in the ninth chapter of the textbook. Firstly, Henick’s ideas on “instinctual hope” and the rationalization of suicide align with the recent increase in broadcast suicides that illustrate the two ideas simultaneously (Comer & Comer, 2017). Aside from technological advancement, live-streamed suicides stem from attempts to publicly clarify the reasons for such actions while also leaving some room for others’ reactions that could change anything (Comer & Comer, 2017). Concerning the prevalence of mental illness among suicidal individuals, Comer and Comer (2017) mention the finding that around 70%, 20%, and 10% of all suicide attempters have severe depression, alcohol addiction, and schizophrenia, respectively. Despite not being genuinely curable, these conditions have symptomatic treatments, so the speaker’s point about treatable mental illnesses in 90% of suicide cases aligns with the chapter’s content (Comer & Comer, 2017). Also, like the presenter, Comer and Comer (2017) view suicide decisions as a consequence of unbearable subjective suffering rather than a person’s deliberate choice. This makes Mr. Henick’s speech credible from the psychological science viewpoint.

Questions after Watching the Video

The video clarified a lot about suicide, but some questions still require answers. To start with, since suicide-related discussions remain undesirable, it is essential to know how to reintroduce this topic in a way that would deflect the blame away from its victims (Monteith et al., 2020). Also, it is interesting whether self-harm can be linked only to manipulation in some cases and how case managers would distinguish between these patients and individuals that are genuinely tired of life. When discussing his case, Mr. Henick highlights the desire to stop endless and meaningless suffering that becomes too intense from time to time (TEDxTalks, 2013). As for my experiences, as a school student, I knew a person who threatened to hang herself if the teacher was going to give her a bad grade. In other situations, that girl did not demonstrate any warning signs of suicidal ideation. Therefore, whether it would be correct to classify suicidal patients’ cases based on the degree of their intentions’ veracity is an issue for consideration.

Hope, Spiritual Development, and Jesus’s Possible Response

The message of hope might offer spiritual development opportunities, and Jesus would be an excellent therapist to help Mr. Henick in his teenage years. The hope construct is what a person lacks in a depressed state, and showing that there are ways out of this hopelessness is crucial (Comer & Comer, 2017). One of my acquaintances with a history of suicide attempts by wrist cutting once told me that reading the Bible in the darkest moments of life was a measure of regaining the lost hope. From my perspective, if Jesus were a therapist, he would react to Mr. Henick’s situation with genuine empathy and focus on sharing the boy’s emotional pain. In John 11:33-35, Jesus demonstrates this kind of compassion by weeping at Lazarus’s tomb with his relatives and friends (Holy Bible, New Living Translation, 1996/2015). Through compassion, he would prevent the client from feeling like the most miserable person whose life is meaningless. In Mark 10:27, Jesus insists that “all things are possible with God” (Holy Bible, New Living Translation, 1996/2015). This optimism would enable him to change the boy’s gloomy perspective of life.


To sum up, the video’s effects and implications include developments in destigmatizing suicide and the popularization of more compassionate attitudes toward those with suicidal ideation. It also changes the philosophy of suicide by preventing associations between intentional self-injury and a person’s free will. The video is scientifically informed, and the idea of “instinctual hope” implies the significance of religious knowledge and spiritual development in preventing suicide cases.


Comer, R. J., & Comer, J. S. (2017). Abnormal psychology (10th ed.). Worth Publishers.

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Holy Bible, New Living Translation. (2015). Tyndale House Publishers. (Original work published 1996).

Monteith, L. L., Smith, N. B., Holliday, R., Holliman, B. A. D., LoFaro, C. T., & Mohatt, N. V. (2020). “We’re afraid to say suicide”: Stigma as a barrier to implementing a community-based suicide prevention program for rural veterans. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 208(5), 371-376. Web.

TEDxTalks. (2013). Why we need to talk about suicide. Mark Henick. TEDxToronto [Video]. YouTube.

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