Twelve Questions with Lance Burdett
As New Zealand Police's top crisis negotiator, Lance Burdett led negotiations with Jan Molenaar during the Napier siege. His book Behind The Tape reveals how he talked 'the mad, the bad and the sad' back from the brink.
1 What are your key techniques when negotiating with a suicidal person?
Often people get a fright when you start talking to them because they have no idea how they got there. You've got to find out the trigger and stay in that zone - I call it the death zone. Then you find out what's kept them going - that's the hook. Maybe they love their dog, their family, something else - talk to them about that, then go back a bit deeper into what got them there. You take them from the hook to the trigger as you slowly work through their journey. It's a delicate dance. We use active listening skills; asking open-ended questions, using their own words and acknowledging emotions. We don't get people past the depression. It's just what I term shake and take. Most negotiations take one to two hours, the hard ones a bit longer. If it goes much longer it's unlikely to end well.
2 Some of the people you've tried to talk out of suicide are criminals - child molesters and cop killers like Jan Molenaar. How are you able to feel empathy for them?
Read more from the NZ Herald [HERE].