Susan Futterman, MS, MA
Marriage & Family Therapist
Calif. License #101007
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I work with a full range of clinical issues, including anxiety, depression, stress and sexual/gender identity. A key area of focus is providing effective therapy to clients who are dealing with suicidal thoughts, engaging in self-harm or striving to cope with the tragedy
of losing a loved one to suicide.
A primary reason for my emphasis on issues surrounding suicide is my deeply personal understanding of how often individuals considering suicide go unnoticed or misdiagnosed and of the indescribable grief and pain faced by individuals and families who have lost loved ones to suicide. Indeed, I became a therapist after a long career in financial writing following the 2012 death of my own, much-loved husband by suicide. I witnessed firsthand how the despair that accompanies suicidal thoughts and attempts is far too frequently unnoticed and mistreated. Similarly, I learned a lesson I would wish on no one: How the suicide of a cherished other can wreak havoc on a survivor’s emotions, physical health and will to live.
Suicide assessment, crisis intervention and suicide prevention are all areas with which most therapists are familiar. However, for an array of reasons, a relative few focus on such issues. Fewer still emphasize working with families and individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide, and helping these suicide loss survivors moved forward with their new lives. Most of my effort is dedicated to working with clients facing these and related challenges. At the same, I also work with individuals, couples and families dealing with a wider variety of needs and concerns.
The reality that psychotherapy is an art, not a science, is epitomized in the field of suicidality The reality that suicide is on the rise in almost all sectors of American society is horrifying. The reality that we do not know what drives a person to suicide is both mystifying and frustrating. And the reality that someone people do not want to be -- or cannot be -- "saved" appears tragic but is nonetheless truth.
Yet this is the area on which I focus; it is where I can be most effective. I do not have the hubris to believe I can save everyone or magically eradicate their pain, grief, trauma and despair. But I can help some.
To be clear, there are no instant or guaranteed results. If you or any of your family, friends or acquaintances have been seriously thinking about suicide and/or devising a plan, I urge you to call one of the numbers listed here. You could save a life.
As mentioned earlier, relatively little attention is paid to issues surrounding suicidality and suicide bereavement. That's why I spend a significant amount of time training others to assess clients who may be suicidal, to work with individuals who are thinking about suicide and to help survivors of suicide loss manage their trauma. I believe it is equally important to reach out to front-line professionals such as crisis-intervention teams, clergy and ER physicians. It is also why I am constantly seeking out new sources of information and new strategies from the American Association of Suicidology and other organizations.