©by Donna Cunningham, MSW on 6-22-2014
Note: the following is a brief excerpt from a chapter on counseling clients in crisis in my ebook for professional astrologers, Counseling Principles for Astrologers: Becoming an Effective Change Agent. Order here: moonmavenpublications.com.
Occasionally, astrology clients will express suicidal thoughts during the session. Sometimes they do it indirectly by saying something like, “I just don’t know how much longer I can go on.”
You first need to assess the seriousness of the client’s desire to die. Can you tell from the chart? I think not.
The National Council for Geocosmic Research, one of the major astrological organizations, conducted a painstaking and well-designed research project on suicide. They did it over a span of six years, from 1974-80, coordinated by Nona Gwynn Press.
The researchers acquired death certificates of suicides from the New York City Bureau of Vital Statistics. Out of that group, they were able to secure 310 timed birth certificates. The date, time, and method of the suicide were also known. They paired each chart with the chart of a non-suicide, randomly selected.
Then 29 practicing astrologers, including some of the finest in the United States, were given ten such pairs. Using their choice of astrological techniques, they attempted to determine which member of the pair was the suicide.
We had a fifty-fifty chance of answering correctly, and yet only one of the 29 was able to score significantly above chance. That was the late Charles Emerson, using the Uranian system. I was one of the flunkees! Later, Rory Mercato also devised a rather elaborate formula that he used with fairly good results.
(For a more detailed report about NCGR’s carefully designed study, read Chapter Six of Nona Gwynn Press’ book, New Insights into Astrology. It was published by AstroCommunications Services, San Diego, 1993. Rory Mercato’s results were published in the October, 1990 issue of URANIA.)
This outcome might be regarded as a blow to our credibility. Nonetheless, it’s reassuring that we don’t know who will or won’t kill themselves–that the chart does not show some kind of immutable fate. The study did not vindicate the traditional astrological indicators of suicide. Pluto and the eighth house can represent death and self-destruction, but also transformation and a great healing.
If you can’t rely on the chart to tell you, what do you do? Ask your client! The following are a series of questions helping professionals use to determine how serious the intention by finding out whether the person has formulated a definite plan.
- Has the person decided on a method?
- Are the means to secure that method easily at hand?
- Does he or she have a definite date or time frame in mind?
- Have there been previous suicide attempts?
- Is there a history of family members or loved ones committing suicide?
- The more yeses you get to these questions and the more definite and detailed the responses, the more cause there is for concern.
Look for support in terms of social agency resources, including suicide prevention hotlines and other resources in your area. Support is essential because the astrologer, working alone, does not have the resources—or the legal standing—to handle suicidal people. Even the therapist in private practice will make sure to have psychiatric backup and to give the client the suicide prevention hot line numbers.
This is the end of this series, but here are links to related posts on Skywriter:
- Why Astrologers Cannot and Should Not Predict Violence or Suicide
- Suicide Prevention vs. Suicide Prediction: Some Cautions for Astrologers
- Important Differences in the Ways Men and Women’s Bodies Process Medication for Depression, Anxiety, Sleep, and Pain
- Hope for Those in the Dark Night of the Soul
Resources from the Internet: