Break the Silence on Suicide With Psychiatrist Mark Goulston

mark goulston

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Mark Goulston

Dr. Mark Goulston is a psychiatrist, bestselling author, and executive coach who spent many years of his career working with patients who were experiencing thoughts of suicide.

He learned that one of the best things he could do for people who were in pain was to sit and listen to them

While he has written many books, some of my personal favorites are "Just Listen," "Get Out of Your Own Way," and "Talking to Crazy."

Why Mark Goulston Is Mentally Strong

Dr. Goulston shares that one of the reasons he is so passionate about mental health is from his own experience in medical school. When he was struggling with depression, he also had thoughts of suicide.

But he had someone in his life who truly listened to him and sought to understand him better. This made him realize how powerful a connection to other people can be and he began his mission to help other people who are in pain feel heard.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • The truth about why some people experience suicidal thoughts
  • How common it is for people to experience suicidal thoughts
  • Why suicidal thoughts aren’t always linked to depression or mental illness
  • How parents can talk to teenagers about suicidal thoughts
  • How to talk to a friend or loved one if you’re concerned about their well-being
  • The steps you can take if you encounter someone who expresses thoughts of suicide
  • Why you shouldn’t blame yourself if you’ve lost a loved one to suicide
  • The things you can do if you experience thoughts of suicide
  • Why the way you start a serious conversation matters so much
  • The percentage of people who experience suicidal thoughts at one time or another
  • The difference between healthy stress and unhealthy stress
  • How to find people who understand your pain

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Although most psychiatrists talk mostly about the medications they prescribe, I’ve never heard Dr. Goulston discuss medication. Even when he talks about the individuals he encountered in an inpatient treatment center, he shares about the human interactions he had with people, not the medication he prescribed them.

So, while medication can be an important part of treatment for mental health, it’s equally important to treat people as individuals and not overlook how powerful connections can be.

It takes mental strength to sit with someone who is in pain. And often, it’s tempting to try and solve people’s problems for them or to try and reassure them that everything is OK, which may cause them to feel like you’re minimizing their suffering.

Dr. Goulston shares how important it is to help people feel heard and understood and how much that can improve their psychological well-being.

Quotes From Dr. Goulston

Dr. Goulston

When people feel powerless and helpless and trapped, and they're looking for relief, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

— Dr. Goulston
  • "I make a distinction between stress and distress. So, when you are stressed out, you can still focus on your goals (with difficulty), but you can still push through. But, when the stress becomes more [frequent], it crosses over into distress. You then switch your goal from whatever your goal was to relieve the distress. And, that's when you start reaching for things that actually make you feel better in the moment, like getting drunk, or binge eating, but they actually make the situation worse."
  • "Sometimes you get addicted to those things because they gave you momentary relief, but then they caused you to feel embarrassed [or] ashamed. You did things that you can't share with other people. And, it's a slippery slope."
  • "Whatever pain you're feeling, there are other people who are feeling it, and it's not that difficult to find them. So, just reach out and find them."

More About the Podcast

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Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you.

For media or public speaking inquiries, contact Amy here.

Links and Resources

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By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.