Franklin James Cook

Personal Grief Coaching Helps Bereaved People by Phone

In Announcements, Grief, Postvention on January 26, 2014 at 10:01 am


In 2013, Suicide Prevention News & Comment editor and publisher Franklin Cook earned his Certified Professional Coach credentials and combined the principles and practices of Life Coaching with those of peer help for traumatic loss survivors to create an innovative telephone support service called Personal Grief Coaching. Here is what it’s all about:

Franklin Cook mug

Helping people cope with grief after a loved one’s traumatic death is Franklin Cook’s mission in life. His own father died traumatically in 1978, and two decades later, he began working with bereaved people as a newfound vocation. After 15 years as a peer helper, he became a Certified Professional Coach and developed this model for one-on-one telephone support, called Personal Grief Coaching. Franklin believes that each person’s unique experience of loss should be honored and respected, and his coaching sessions provide a safe space for grieving people to tell their story as they wish to tell it.

The guiding principles of Personal Grief Coaching:

  • Grief is a natural human response to a loved one’s death.
  • Each bereaved person’s needs are unique, and people benefit from individualized assistance.
  • Peer support from a person who has recovered from a traumatic death can be very helpful to a bereaved person.
  • Grief involves making meaning from things about life that are confusing and painful (which is also called “relearning the world“).
  • Compassionate dialogue with a peer coach can create a place from where bereaved people can find their own way to healing.

Top Dozen SPNAC Posts Highlighted for Readers

In Announcements on January 26, 2014 at 7:41 am

The dozen most-read posts from Suicide Prevention News & Comment are listed below. Please see the original announcement or the About Page to learn about SPNAC’s current status (briefly, all posts are available, comments continue to be moderated). Please see the post at the left to learn about SPNAC editor and publisher Franklin Cook’s telephone support service, Personal Grief Coaching — or contact Franklin for more information.

  1. “Please Stop Saying, ‘Suicide is a permanent solution …'”:
  2. “Youth Suicide among Native Americans Linked to Colonialism”:
  3. “‘Cyberbullying not epidemic … not killing our children'”:
  4. “The Last Word on the Financial Crisis and Suicide Prevention”:
  5. “Edwin Shneidman’s Meditations on Death Are Full of Life”:
  6. “Culture of Stigma Is a Key Cause of Military, Veteran Suicides”:
  7. “‘Seven Pounds'” Is Guilty of Irresponsibility with Suicide”:
  8. “Dylan Klebold’s Mom Is a Survivor of Suicide Loss”:
  9. “Links to Suicide Grief Stories: May 4, 2009”:
  10. “Links to Suicide Grief Stories: March 8, 2010”:
  11. “‘Badge of Life’ Works To Counter Police Trauma, Suicide”:
  12. “Military Widow: After Suicide, ‘The family is chastised, too'”:

All of the content on SPNAC will continue to be made available as long as there is an interest in the posts and WordPress continues to provide this basic service for free.

Please Stop Saying, “Suicide is a permanent solution …”

In Opinion, Prevention on March 5, 2010 at 10:11 am


By Franklin Cook, SPNAC Editor

I have worked in suicide prevention and suicide grief support for a little more than a decade, and for the past year and a half (since the SPNAC blog was launched), I’ve scanned hundreds of articles on this tragic subject. In the course of my encounters with what is said and written in communities across the country and on the Internet, I have been subjected about a thousand times to the declaration “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” and I cannot hear it one more time without crying out: Please stop saying that!

I know that it must seem like a clever and even a helpful thing to say (or else why would people have kept saying it, right up to the point where it has become nothing less than a cliche but with the power, I’m afraid, of an axiom). The declaration seems clever, I suppose, because it has the pleasant sing-song rhythm of an advertising jingle, like “I am stuck on Band-Aid, ’cause a Band-Aid’s stuck on me.” And it seems helpful because, of course, it is true: Indeed, suicide is a permanent solution.

But here’s why I argue that we should stop saying it:

The statement violates the age-old principle that what we communicate ought to be designed specifically with a focus on the audience for whom the particular communication is intended. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” might strike someone who is not suicidal as a clever statement, and it might be a helpful thing to hear from the point of view of someone who already believes (or is likely to be convinced) that his or her problem is temporary. But the audience for this anti-suicide ditty is, of course, people who are suicidal.

As Edwin Shneidman points out in his Ten Commonalities of Suicide, “The common purpose of suicide is to seek a solution.” So emphasizing to a suicidal person that suicide is a permananet solution is as likely to be unhelpful — or even harmful or dangerous — as it is to be helpful.

The problem a suicidal person is trying to solve, according to Shneidman, is how to escape from psychache, which Shneidman defines as “intolerable emotion, unbearable pain, unacceptable anguish … [that] cannot be abated by means that were previously successful” (emphasis added). In other words, from the point of view of someone who is earnestly considering killing himself or herself, the pain from which suicide would provide escape is not temporary.

Even though the perception that the pain is permanent is not accurate, the strategy of trying to convince a suicidal person that his or her pain is temporary is as likely to be counter-productive as it is to be productive.

Read more here …