If you are considering becoming a mental health professional who specializes in suicide prevention, you are likely looking into different schools and degree programs. Before you commit yourself to spending time in school and training on the job, you should look at the suicide counselors career outlook. This gives you an idea of how quickly the number of jobs in this field will grow and the likelihood that you can find a job as a counselor later.
Though the outlook for the field is high, you should also consider what these counselors do and why some professionals burn out after working in the field. While working in mental health can be taxing regardless of what field you are in, counselors who have patients with suicidal behaviors should consider the work they are taking on before starting.
Let’s learn more about suicide counselors, what it takes to become one, and how they are saving people and their loved ones every day…
What Does a Suicide Counselor Do?
There are many different types of mental health professionals. Suicide counselors generally fall in to one of two different categories.
The first are the professional counselors who work with patients on a long-term basis and provide them with help and support. If someone is commonly showing suicidal behaviors or has made suicide attempts, they will likely need this type of suicide counselor. They may seek treatment on their own, be given a crisis intervention from their loved ones, or be recommended it by a doctor. Long term therapy for a suicidal person may include evaluating family history, uncovering trauma, learning coping strategies and more. The second is someone who interacts with those going through rough times over the phone or in person. While these patients have mental health issues to work through, they may not have all of the risk factors that lead to committing suicide so their treatment may not be as intense.
Counselors listen to clients struggling with depression and other medical conditions and make them understand that they have other options beyond suicide. With their education and experience, a suicide counselor is able to help their patients with their suicidal behavior such as…
- Recent suicide attempts
- Previous suicide attempts
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicidal ideation
- Substance abuse linked to their thoughts of suicide
With the right therapist, a suicidal person can learning coping skills that will help them work through their pain and discover that life is worth living. Counselors encourage them to find a support network and to practice their coping strategies every day. As counselors cannot help all patients, some struggle with depression and change career paths within a few years of starting in this field.
How Can You Become a Counselor?
The way you become a suicide counselor depends on where you want to work and what you want to do. Licensed mental health care professionals must earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a similar field and then enroll in a graduate program. Most graduate programs include an internship or a residency program that requires you spend at least a year working with real clients. Depending on where you live and work, you may need a PhD in mental health counseling too. If you want to work as a volunteer counselor or a phone counselor, you usually go through some on the job training before working with clients.
Where They Work
Counselors specializing in suicide help and suicide prevention work in a number of settings. Many work in hospitals and respond to calls from the emergency room to talk with patients who either had a suicide attempt or want to attempt suicide. They can also work in public health centers and treat patients who walked in off the street or called in and made an appointment. Other places counselors work include mental health treatment centers and rehab centers. Some volunteer organizations hire counselors to talk with patients over the phone, or through a crisis text line, and some companies now hire counselors to hold sessions with patients over the internet.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups most counselors and therapists under the same listing. According to the BLS, the career outlook for all these jobs is quite high at 19%, which is faster than average. This means that by 2024, more than 31,000 people will start working in the counseling field. The exact suicide counselors career outlook may be a little off from this figure because the turnover rate for the profession is so high. As long as other counselors move on to different jobs though, there will be more jobs open for newer counselors just starting out.
Suicide counselors have high-stress jobs. They work with clients and patients who tried to commit suicide in the past and those who want to take their own lives now. Looking at suicide counselors career outlook statistics, finding out more about what these counselors do and seeing where you might work can help you decide if this is a good job for you.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or are seeing warning signs in someone else, crisis resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be a great place to seek help.