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.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF SOMEONE HAS ATTEMPTED SUICIDE?
Remain calm and call 9-1-1.
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 of support from family or friends
- have access to weapons, medications, or other lethal means of suicide.
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 Are the Warning Signs?
People who are feeling suicidal may:
- show a sudden change in mood or behavior
- 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 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.
- Talk Suicide 1-833-456-4566 (Talksuicide.ca)
- Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 (KidsHelpPhone.ca)
- Find other crisis and distress line services at SuicidePrevention.ca
What Can You 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.