My guest today is Dr. Jonathan Singer, Ph. D., LCSW, who is an expert in the area of suicide. He is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Loyola University in Chicago and the founder and host of The Social Work podcast. He co-authored the book, Suicide in Schools. This episode focuses on suicide pacts and the social media component and is the second piece of a two-part series.

  • The language we use around suicide is important. Instead of “suicide threat,” the less-threatening terminology is “suicide disclosure.” Dr. Singer shares how he helped in a suicide pact scenario years ago, before the onset of social media. His story would be very different in today’s world that’s overrun with social media platforms.
  • Peers can help and even intervene in a crisis situation. In today’s world saturated with social media, teens will often be the first to hear of suicide pacts. Their awareness is crucial, so they know how to help and what to do. Dr. Singer explains how to be a friend to someone who is at risk for suicide and, specifically, how to address an online suicide pact.
  • What if someone feels that they are betraying a friend? Well, “It’s better to have a friend alive and mad, than dead.” There are intense affective conversation techniques that can help keep a friend around: “Your reason for living may not be in your life yet.”
  • Talking about it is so important! Dr. Singer explains that research has shown that asking kids about suicide does not increase risk, but can actually buffer the risk. Contrary to what some people think, bringing up the conversation will NOT make them suicidal.  What does increase the risk is watching a graphic show about a bleak world without hope, as in the recent Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why.


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Suicide in Schools by Dr. Jonathan Singer

Social Work Podcast

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