Men's Health

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID

MIDWAY THROUGH the morning session of Mental Health First Aid, a course at the Mental Health Center of Denver, my instructor asks me to turn to one of my tablemates, look them in the eye, and ask a simple question: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Not “hurting yourself,” because the semantics will work against you. “Killing yourself.” Simple, direct, straight-faced.

I fail. I ask the question with an uncomfortable laugh and a half smile. It turns out that question is really, really hard to ask, even when you’re interrogating a non-suicidal stranger in a training exercise who knows it’s coming. And that’s the point. The instructors at these increasingly popular learn-to-help classes want us to ask the question aloud so that when we need to use it in real life, we won’t hesitate or

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