Suicidal thoughts? - There is Help
What can I do if I am feeling suicidal?
If you are thinking about suicide, there are several things you can do to help yourself. It begins with letting someone else know how you are feeling. You can:
- Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member or friend.
- Tell your doctor or a mental health provider.
- Go to your local emergency department.
- Call a distress line
Distress Crisis Resources
If you need help in an emergency or are in crisis:
- Visit your local emergency department or call 911
- Contact a nurse at Telehealth Ontario by dialing 1-866-797-0000
- Call the Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868
- Contact a distress centre in Ontario near you (phone numbers provided below)
What is suicide?
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. It occurs across all ages, incomes, ethnicity and social factors. Males die by suicide more than three times as often as females, but three times more women than men attempt suicide.
Why do people turn to suicide?
Most often, people turn to suicide when they have lost hope and feel helpless. They want their pain to end, and they may see no other way out. Suicide can also be an impulsive act that follows the use of substances. In some cases, people with psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia may hear voices that tell them to harm themselves.
Who is at risk?
People at a higher risk of suicide include those who:
- have a serious mental health and or addiction problem
- have had a recent major loss (for example, the death of a loved one or a job loss)
- have a family history of suicide
- have made previous suicide attempts
- have a serious physical illness
- have an impulsive personality
- lack support from family or friends
- have access to weapons, medications or other lethal means of suicide
What are the warning signs?
People who are feeling suicidal may:
- show a sudden change in mood or behaviour
- show a sense of hopelessness and helplessness
- express the wish to die or end their life
- increase substance use
- withdraw from people and activities that they previously enjoyed
- experience changes in sleeping patterns
- have a decreased appetite
- give away prized possessions or make preparations for their death (for example, creating a will).
What if the person refuses to go to the hospital?
In Ontario, if someone who is thought to be at serious risk for suicide refuses to go to the hospital, there are three ways that he or she may be compelled to go for an assessment:
- A doctor may examine the person (either in the community or at a hospital) to issue an Application for Psychiatric Assessment (sometimes called Form 1). This allows for the person to be kept in hospital for up to 72 hours, to determine whether he or she needs psychiatric care and supervision.
- A police officer may take the person to the hospital to be examined by a doctor.
- A justice of the peace may authorize the police to take the person to the hospital.
What should I do if someone has attempted suicide?
Remain calm and call 911.
Can the risk be reduced?
The risk for suicide may be reduced when protective factors are present. In general, protective factors help to increase a person’s resilience - the ability to recover or "bounce back" in the face of stress and adversity. Examples include:
- positive social supports
- a sense of responsibility for others, such as having children in the home (except when the person has postpartum depression or psychosis) or having pets
- positive coping skills
- a positive relationship with a medical or mental health provider
- self-efficacy (a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in specific situations)
- a religious belief that suicide is wrong.
What to do if someone you know is suicidal?
Listen to them and take them seriously. Don’t judge or minimize their feelings. Be positive and hopeful, and remember that suicide can be prevented.
Ask them if they are suicidal. Don’t be afraid that you will put the idea in their head. It may be a relief for them to talk about it.
Ask if they have a plan. Depending on their answer you may want to limit their access to lethal means, such as medication, knives or firearms.
Ask them to rate their suicidal feelings on a scale of 1 to 10. Then regularly ask them to tell you where they are on the scale, so you can assess if things are getting worse.
Let them know help is available and that the cause of their suicidal thoughts can be successfully treated.
Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.
Encourage them to seek help from a doctor or mental health provider, and offer to help with this if they would like.
Make a safety plan with them. Who will they call if their feelings get stronger? Who can stay with them to keep them safe? Make a list of phone numbers of people and services they can call if they feel unsafe. Avoid leaving the person alone if he or she is in crisis.
Seek support for yourself; it is important that you don’t carry this burden alone.
Mobile crisis response teams
- North York/ Etobicoke:
- Mental Health crisis response program 416-498-0043, Provided by St. Elizabeth Health Care 24 hours/ 7 days Service borders: South to the lake to Jane, to Eglinton, Eglinton east to Victoria Park, north to Steeles, and west to Hwy 427
- St. Joseph’s Hospital Mobile Crisis Team via Police Department (911) 24/7 service, accessible through police (no direct number).
- Gerstein Centre Crisis Line - 416-929-5200, 24 hours/ 7 days Professional Referral Line - 416-929-9897, Mobile unit service borders: south to the lake, north to Eglinton, east to Bayview to Danforth and then to Victoria Park, west to Jane St..
- Aboriginal Crisis Intervention Program 416-531-0330
- St. Mike’s Hospital Mobile Crisis Team via Police Department (911), 24/7 service, accessible through police (no direct number).
- Scarborough/East York:
- Scarborough Hospital Regional Mobile Crisis Team 416-495-2033. General Campus - Mobile Crisis (Grace Campus Crisis Response only for ER) 24 hours/ 7 days Service borders: south to the lake, north to Steeles Ave., east to Port Union Rd., and west to Victoria Park to Eglinton, along Eglinton to Bayview Ave, along Bayview to Danforth, and then back to Victoria Park. To book an urgent outpatient appointment with the Crisis Program, call the number above and a Crisis professional will direct you to the appropriate service.
- York Region:
- Community Crisis Response Service, Distress Centre, 905-310-COPE (2673)
- Peel Region:
- Mobile Crisis of Peel 905-278-9036, 24/7 day crisis response for the Peel Region (Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon.) immediate telephone support emergency or respite housing and hospitalization if needed
- Credit Valley Hospital - Mobile Crisis Team 905-813-4141. Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and Statutory holidays, 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- St. Joseph’s Hospital Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST), 905-972-8338 24-7 service, covers Hamilton community
- Durham Crisis Services – Mobile Team 905-666-0483, 24 hrs/ 7 days; 8 crisis beds available.
- Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) 1-877-825-9011. Covers: Oakville, Milton, Georgetown, Acton and Burlington
Community crisis clinics
Regional and Hospital Based Crisis Program 416-495-2891 Hours: 24/7 at the General campus, 8:30am – 11pm at the Grace campus. A multi-disciplinary team who provides effective and timely intervention to individuals who have urgent mental health needs staffs these programs. Located at both General and Grace Campus's Emergency Departments. Outpatient assessment and intervention is available for individuals who do not require an immediate Emergency Department visit but who may need services within a 24-48 hour period. You may access this service by calling our Mobile Crisis Program at (416) 289-2434.
Trillium Crisis Team 905-848-7495 Assessments and counselling to adults who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Referrals: those in crisis, their families and friends, community agencies, family physicians, specialists, schools, etc
Other resources found under Resources page.
Information on this page was compiled from camh.ca. For more information visit CAMH.ca
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