Last time, we talked about asking the question, “Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?” and I encouraged you to ask boldly and openly. Generally, a direct question pulls for a direct answer.
There are really only three answers to the Question: no, not really, or yes.
If they say ‘no,’ and you are comfortable with their answer, you can move on. A response like, “That’s good to hear. I’m happy to listen when you are ready to talk,” might be helpful.
If they say ‘not really,’ to me that usually sounds like a veiled ‘yes.’ Maybe you don’t have good enough rapport yet to get an honest answer. Maybe they need a little more time or support in order to feel comfortable saying ‘yes.’ Or maybe they are just unsure. Whatever the case, focus on building rapport or making a deeper connection with the person, then try asking the question once again.
If they say ‘yes,’ remain calm and don’t panic. I recommend you continue your conversation and explore their life situation and resources a bit. We’ll talk about what to do next time.