It’s Getting HOT In Here

Julia Szynal


May 23, 2020

According to a 2017 CDC statistic, the rate of teen suicides has risen to 5,400 attempts per day. Now more than ever, teenagers and young adults need to build skills that will enable them to fight suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Dr. Ursula Whiteside is a renowned clinical psychologist who has researched, studied and developed programs that help suicidal patients. Dr. Whiteside, who is also “a person with Lived Experience” herself, understands the importance of bridging the gap between patients, survivors, and therapists. She has embodied the mantra of “nothing about us without us” and positively affected the landscape of how therapists and researchers can help prevent suicides. Dr. Whiteside has also highlighted that most teenagers are impulsive, which only compounds the pressures and stressors of today’s society.

In a Hope Illuminated podcast, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas interviews Dr. Whiteside about her experience and research. Within the podcast, Dr. Whiteside outlines a three step plan that will equip all individuals with the means of dealing with suicidal impulses when in a crisis. The three step procedure focuses on eliciting the Mammalian Dive Reflex to help regulate intense emotional arousal.

  1. Splash cold water in your face
  2. Do not make any major decisions for at least 24 hours
  3. Make eye contact with someone, anyone

“Sometimes, however, despite our best efforts to escape, we may find ourselves ‘on fire.’ And in these instances of the most extreme forms of suicidal intensity, we need a different set of survival behaviors. We need to extinguish the ‘oxygen’ that is feeding the crisis by quickly resetting the emotional state. In this episode, Dr. Whiteside shares three important steps that can help people reset their emotional system; the suicide crisis equivalent of ‘stop, drop and roll.‘”

Listen to the full podcast here, and read more about Dr. Ursula Whiteside here.

Important Information and Skills

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills:

Other Resources:

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Julia Szynal

Julia is a junior at Boston College, majoring in Applied Psychology and Human Development with a concentration in Special Education and two minors: Restorative and Transformational Justice and Cybersecurity. She is from Summit, NJ, and in her free time, loves to watch movies, go to SoulCycle, and play lacrosse.