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If you were walking down the street and you saw a crisp $100 dollar bill, would you stop and pick it up? Would you stop to pick up an old penny? When we don’t see something as valuable, we don’t mind losing it or leaving it behind. Sometimes a person can feel that way about their life.

The warning sign we’re talking about today is “reckless behavior.” Did you know that the “reck” in “reckless” comes from Old English or perhaps Old Norse where it meant having a care, or deeming that something has value. (I didn’t know that until I started writing this, btw).

We are talking about someone taking actions that show that to some degree they no longer value their life the same way that they used to. How did they arrive at such a low valuation of their own life?

Before going too far, however, it would be useful to establish a common understanding of the potential lethality of what they were doing. When they decided to do something we could categorize as reckless, did they know how dangerous it was? If not, then perhaps there is less cause for alarm about suicide risk and education about potential lethality is needed instead.

If the person was engaging in potentially lethal behavior, while fully aware of the chances that they might not survive, then we need to explore that further. What were they trying to prove and to who? Did they feel so numb or depressed that they started engaging in dangerous activities to ‘feel more alive’? Did they feel repressed or trapped, and took drastic action to rebel or break free?

Two of the most helpful questions might be: What version of the future did they see that they were willing to risk? What would make them value life so much that they would go from reckless to “I reckon I’ll live some more”?

I would love to learn from your experience too. What recovery insights have you encountered or discovered in working with clients after learning about their reckless or dangerous behavior?