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图书馆员自杀防备和心理健康认识攻略

同志见闻10-09 20:36:432
@Information Today

美国北卡法令图书馆馆长Anthony Aycock于日前布一篇文章,从图书馆的收藏以及读者服务两个视点,进行自杀防治以及怎么应对读者的心理健康问题。好像文末所提,图书馆员一直以来都站在处理心理健康问题的第一线,而馆员面临这场战役的仅有兵器便是信息,唯有正确的运用信息才能够让我们手中的兵器愈加锋利,以面临艰困的局势。

原文出处:A Librarian's Guide to Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness

Collection Management

In 2010, Matthew Boylan was handling telephone reference with the New York Public Library when he received a harrowing call. It was from a police officer, who told Boylan that a 16-year-old girl was threatening to jump from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Her only identification? A library card. The officer wanted Boylan to use this card to look up the girl’s name, address, and parental contact information.

Not every librarian will be in the position of helping stop a suicide like Boylan: He gave the officer the information, and the girl survived. And yet, with suicide attempts on the rise, especially for teenagers—among this age group, rates of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts in some cases more than doubled from 2008 to 2017, and depression increased by more than 60% for ages 14–17 from 2009 to 2017—most of us have served people who have considered killing themselves or have tried to.

As with other at-risk populations, offering useful materials can be tricky. One way is through research guides that are specific to suicide (rather than general mental health guides). The following are a few U.S. academic libraries that have them:

University of Illinois—A comprehensive guide with articles, statistics, and catalog search terms. One link is to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), one of the country’s first suicide prevention organizations.

Shippensburg University—This guide focuses on teen suicide, including resources on hazing, bullying, depression, and LGBT+ issues, and is policy-heavy. Many of the resources are restricted to library use, but some, such as ProPublica, are free.

Pitt Community College—This guide is short on prevention but offers an excellent collection of statistical resources, many of them free, such as those from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the indispensable Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Because suicide is an even greater scourge in the LGBT+ community—40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide, and LGBT+ young people are five times as likely to do so compared to heterosexual youth, according to the Trevor Project—a robust LGBT+ collection can be a de facto suicide-prevention resource.

Public Services

According to NAMI, 46% of people who die by suicide struggled with their mental health. In my book The Accidental Law Librarian, I discuss providing law-related reference service to patrons who ask bizarre or misguided questions or who may be mentally ill. The techniques are effective in any reference transaction:

Treat every question seriously and every patron with respect.

Clarify the question by saying, for example, “Could you tell me more? I’m not sure I understand.”

Focus on the question, not the patron’s appearance or demeanor, which is sometimes hard to ignore (e.g., rambling monologues, outbursts, disheveled or smelly clothing, talking to unseen companions).

Keep your voice even, your gaze steady, and your movements undemonstrative.

[P]atrons may want to talk. A lot. Don’t let them monopolize your time. When they get off-topic, find a way to re-orient them to the reference request.

Don’t argue with the patron. Accept, but don’t enter, their reality.

Maintain boundaries: no touching, no personal questions, no breaking library policy.

Call a colleague for backup if necessary

It’s helpful to have a written policy on handling this type of patron. The New York Public Library developed such a policy after Matthew Boylan’s experience. Moreover, libraries should invest in crisis response training for public service staffers. Some libraries employ social workers or mental health professionals to step in when needed.

If specialized staffing or training isn’t possible, librarians should take time to become experts—not familiar with, but experts—in referring patrons to the right U.S. government agencies and social services organizations. Here are a few:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

NAMI

Whole Person Librarianship

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