Warning signs   Warning signs

Suicidal thoughts? - There is Help

get help now

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

Warning signs

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

Warning signs

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.


How you can help

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.

Warning signs

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).
  • Toronto:
    • 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.
  • Hamilton:
    • St. Joseph’s Hospital Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST), 905-972-8338 24-7 service, covers Hamilton community
  • Durham:
    • Durham Crisis Services – Mobile Team 905-666-0483, 24 hrs/ 7 days; 8 crisis beds available.
  • Halton:
    • Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) 1-877-825-9011. Covers: Oakville, Milton, Georgetown, Acton and Burlington


Community crisis clinics

Scarborough Hospitals
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  For more information visit



Sashbear's Expert Education Series

Click here for a list of upcoming and recorded presentations. 




Tolerance for Uncertainty is a DBT-based workbook that can be used by family members and our loved ones. Developed by a DBT-trained clinical psychologist in North Bay, Dr. Sachiko Nagasawa, this workbook guides you through DBT skills to accept your feelings, tolerate distress, and thrive in this challenging time.

Here is a link to download Tolerance for Uncertainty: A COVID-19 Workbook

Image of Distress Tolerance Cover



Link to Resources


Sashbear (links to upcoming events, education, support resources)
Sashbear Family Connections Groups
Sashbear's DBT Skills in schools pilot
Sashbear's About Suicide Information which includes phone numbers around GTA
Sashbear's About BPD Information

Centre for Addition & Mental Health - Toronto
What's up walkin - Toronto free mental health counselling
Davenport Perth Health Programs - Toronto runs DBT skills group – Surfing Tsunamis
Kids Help Phone
Canadian Mental Health Association - Toronto
SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health - Toronto
East Metro Youth Services - Toronto
East Metro Youth Services Walk-In-Clinic - Toronto - free mental health counselling service for infants, children, youth and their families to help with issues such as depression, bullying, sexual identity, behavioral concerns, etc.
Skylark (Delisle) Youth Services - Toronto
LOFT - Toronto
Family Navigation Project @ Sunnybrook - Toronto
Reconnect’s FAME Family and Caregiver Support Services - Toronto
CMHA-Toronto Family Outreach and Response Program (FOR) - Toronto
Youthdale - Toronto
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences - Whitby
BPD Society of BC - BC
ON-BPD - Ottawa
AMI Quebec - QC
Stella's Place Assessment and Treatment Centre - Toronto
Living Works Resources
Haliburton Highlands Health Services - Haliburton
The Mental Health Mom - podcasts

Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (addiction treatment) - ABcall 211 or log on to for immediate assistance in Ontario, to access resources in your local area

In Alberta - Access 24/7 is now open, providing in-person assessment, crisis outreach and stabilization around the clock, every day of the year. People seeking addiction and mental health supports can now go to Anderson Hall across from the Royal Alexandra Hospital emergency department, 10959 102 St. N.W, Edmonton, AB. There, they can access walk-in, phone and outreach services, including information and referrals; support for individuals and families to navigate Alberta Health Services (AHS) and community services; consults to community providers; intervention and treatment. They can also access a wide variety of services through one telephone number: 780-424-2424.

Canada fee for service resources

Please note that each organization provides different and sometimes partial DBT services with respect to group skills, phone coaching, etc. and wait times and costs will vary. Please enquire about these when you contact them. This list is not intended to rank or rate the organizations listed:

Borderline Personality Disorder From the Inside Out
Broadleaf Health - Guelph
Broadview Psychology - Toronto
Centre for MindBody Health - Toronto
Dialectical Living - Toronto
MidlandDBT - Midland
Dr. Elana Rosencrantz - Toronto
Dr. Sachiko Nagasawa - Nothbay - Currently offering online services
Dr. Siegi Schuler - Toronto
EBT3 - Toronto
Emily Collette Counsellling - Toronto
Freud-Goldman and associates - Thornhill
Garfinkel Therapy - Durham and York regions
Inner Solutions - Calgary
Kristan Graham-Seymore - Kitchener/Waterloo
Mindfulness Dimensions (MBSR) - Toronto
North Simcoe Therapy Network - Midland
Rennet Wong-Gates - Aurora
The Mindfulness Clinic - Toronto
Toronto DBT Centre - Toronto
Toronto Psychology & Wellness Group - Toronto


National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder - link to Education Videos
McLean Hospital - link to Consumer Education
Clearview -
Behavioral Tech - Dialectical behaviour therapy website
DBT Path -  DBT Path
Hope For BPD -  Hope For BPD
DBT Peer Connections - DBT Peer Connections
DBT Self Help - Marsha Linehan video transcripts
BPD Resource Centre -
BPD video -
Personality Disorder Awareness Network -
Project375 - Brandon Marshall's Project375

Miscellaneous Resources - online support group for people with depression and bipolar disorder, etc.
Healthy Place - online support group for people with addiction and mental health issues.
Mindfulness Dimensions - specializing in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)



Blaise Aguirre (2013) - Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder: Relieve Your Suffering Using the Core Skill of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Blaise Aguirre (2014) - Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents: What to do when your teen has BPD
M. McKay, J. Wood, J. Brantley (2007) – The Dialectical Behavior Theraphy Skills Workbook
Michael Hollander (2008) - Helping Teens Who Cut: Understanding and Ending Self-Injury
Shari Manning (2011) - Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder
Alan Fruzzetti (2006) - The High-Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy, and Validation
Valerie Porr (2010) - Overcoming Borderline Personality Disorder: A Family Guide for Healing and Change
Sheri Van Dijk (2012) - Calming the emotional storm: Using DBT skills to manage your emotions & balance your life
Children's books available via - Personality Disorder Awareness Network
Bea, Pamela, Paula Tusiani (2013) - Remnants of a Life on Paper
Fran Porter (2014) - When The Ship Has No Stabilizers

Click below for a list of book resources that Sashbear Family Connection participants have shared with us during our FC groups. These are not necessarily Sashbear recommendations but rather a compiled list of resources our participants have shared with us that have been useful to them:
FC Book list


Sashbear Pamphlets

Borderline Personality Disorder Pamphlet
BPD Pamphlet

Family Connections Pamphlet
FC Pamphlet

DBT Skills in Schools Pilot project Pamphlet
DBT Skills in Schools Pamphlet


What to do if you think you may have BPD

  • Personality disorders are really difficult to deal with on your own, so if you’re worried about having a personality disorder it’s a good idea to visit your GP. It will make the process of diagnosing and managing the disorder much easier and quicker if you seek professional help.

  • Alongside a professional treatment plan, people with personality disorders also develop strategies to manage their symptoms in everyday life, including developing positive coping skills.

  • Attend the emergency room if you have thoughts of harming yourself or others


How to support a family member/friend with BPD:

  • Validate their experience and listen without judgement

  • Educate yourself about BPD

  • Support their efforts to seek professional help

  • Do not ignore threats of harm and get in touch with emergency services

  • Remember to take care of yourself


How does the future look?

Research has shown that people can recover from BPD and that their recovery is often long-lasting. Everyone’s path to recovery is different, whether you are the individual with BPD or a family member or friend. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in life as people grow beyond the impact of BPD. O’Grady and Skinner (2007) say it best: “Recovery has also been described as a process by which people recover their self-esteem, dreams, self-worth, empowerment, pride, dignity and meaning.”

The above information was compiled from  For more information visit


The Challenges of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

BPD is virtually unknownyet it affects 2-6 percent of the population (as many as Bipolar and Schizophrenia combined). The most recent (and largest) community survey in the United States found a prevalence of BPD of six per cent. For the U.S. alone this translates into more than 18.8 million people living with BPD, almost equal to the population of greater metropolitan area of New York City, the fourth largest city in the world. At this time, we don’t have accurate rates for Canada (Grant et al., 2008).

Obstacles within the Health Care Community hinder early diagnosis and intervention.  In fact, limited knowledge among medical professionals can actually make things worse.  Within the medical community there is often a stigma around labeling an adolescent with emerging BPD traits.  This limits the introduction of coping skills and intervention to alleviate early symptoms.  Eventually unaddressed symptoms may escalate requiring crisis intervention in an emergency environment such as a general psychiatric ward that may lack an appropriate blueprint to provide a path of hope towards effective treatment.

BPD resources are scarce. Currently there are relatively few facilities and programs for BPD treatment and there are a limited number of  professionals trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) the most effective known treatment for BPD.  Lack of subject matter experts combined with limited funding* inhibits new BPD research and care giver training  means that the situation is not likely to improve quickly unless strong action is taken.
*in US $300 million /year is raised for Schizophrenia vs. $5 million raised for BPD

Borderline Personality Disorder Pamphlet

BPD Pamphlet

The Good News

BPD is very treatable!
With appropriate therapy most patients can recover and live a full productive life.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is highly effective in treating BPD
DBT combines standard techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness.

DBT impacts in other areas of Mental Illness
DBT has also proven effective in the treatment of other mental health issues such as bipolar and eating disorders.  By providing an effective skills base for overall emotional stability practicing DBT skills helps in regulating emotions; relating better with others and handling distress. See Family Connections for a program designed to help families and friends with loved ones living with emotional dysregulation.

DBT skills present a universal opportunity
When we teach DBT skills to general populations we are helping ensure that non-inherent life skills become more widely utilized.  We believe this could result in fewer people exhibiting BPD traits thus reducing the strain on medical resources.  This could also help improve relationships within educational institutions, families and workplace through the creation of a more validating environment for everyone..
See Why DBT in schools? for details about an initiative funded by Sashbear to research benefits of implementing a DBT skills curriculum in schools.


Expert Education Series

Upcoming and Recorded Presentations


Upcoming Presentations 


(August 10POSTPONED: Date TBA
Dr. Alexander Chapman
President, DBT Centre of Vancouver
Professor & Clinical Science Area Coordinator, Department of Psychology, and Director, Personality and Emotion Research La at Simon Fraser University (SFU), British Columbia.


August 24, 
Dr. Cynthia Kaplan
Director, Trauma Training and Consultation, Simches Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at McLean Hospital, Boston
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School


September 28, 
Dr. Gillian Galen,
Program Director, 3East DBT Residential Programs and Director of Training, 3East Continuum at McLean Hospital, Boston
Instructor in Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.




Recorded Presentations


How to Support your Loved One Struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation

Dr. Christine Klinkhoff

In this presentation, Dr. Klinkhoff will explain the cycle of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder alone and alongside Borderline Personality Disorder. She will review principles of Exposure and Response Prevention and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, two evidence based treatments for OCD. Dr. Klinkhoff will provide suggestions and strategies for caregivers on how they can refrain from accommodating OCD and best support their loved one’s recovery.



Invalidation: therapeutic tool and a weapon of mass destruction

Francheska Perepletchikova, Ph.D.

Join us for a presentation on April 27 with Dr. Francheska Perepletchikova: DBT expert, researcher, and developer of DBT-C (DBT for children). Dr. Perepletchikova will be discussing the role and impact of invalidation.



Helping Youth Who Self-Harm - Part ll

Sheri Van Dijk MSW, RSW

As we’ve seen, helping youth who engage in self-harming behaviours is overwhelming and hard! Join us for a second webinar to delve a little deeper into information about self-harm that will help you understand your child’s behaviour. You’ll learn more about this problem behaviour and how it develops from a DBT perspective; how to validate your teen; and we’ll look at some behavioural principles to help you address the self-harm in a consistent and nonjudgmental way.

Sheri Van Dijk is a Social Worker, who has been working with clients with severe mental health problems since 2000. With extensive experience in a hospital as well as community setting, Sheri now sees clients in private practice, and provides consultation and training internationally to other clinicians. Sheri has had extensive training in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and mindfulness and has been providing DBT-informed therapy to individuals and groups since 2004. Sheri is the author of several books that focus on helping readers learn DBT skills and apply them to a variety of mental health problems; and in 2013, she published DBT Made Simple, with the aim of making the therapy more accessible to both clients and clinicians. Sheri’s latest book, The DBT Skills Workbook for Teen Self-Harm was released in March, 2021. 



Helping Youth Who Self-Harm - Part l

Sheri Van Dijk MSW, RSW

It’s hard for most people to understand why someone would purposely inflict pain on themselves, and yet this isn’t uncommon, with rates of youth self-harm ranging from 1.5 to 6.7% in community samples; and as high as 50% in adolescent psychiatric samples. While self-harming behaviours typically decrease in late adolescence, youth who engage in this behaviour repetitively seem to be at high risk for continuing to use dysfunctional emotion regulation strategies such as substance misuse even after stopping the self-harming behaviour. This, in addition to the fact that self-harm is one of the strongest antecedents of suicide in youth, makes this a behaviour that requires effective intervention. Of course, intervening is often easier said than done!

In this webinar, you’ll develop a better understanding of self-harming behaviours and why youth turn to this as a means of managing emotions. We’ll discuss ways you can help your youth by managing your own emotions in healthy ways, as well as how you can intervene more skillfully with your loved one. 

Participants will learn:

• What self-harming is and why people do it

• How to support your loved one without reinforcing the self-harming behaviour, through skills such as emotion regulation and validation


Sheri Van Dijk is a Social Worker, who has been working with clients with severe mental health problems since 2000. With extensive experience in a hospital as well as community setting, Sheri now sees clients in private practice, and provides consultation and training internationally to other clinicians. Sheri has had extensive training in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and mindfulness and has been providing DBT-informed therapy to individuals and groups since 2004. Sheri is the author of several books that focus on helping readers learn DBT skills and apply them to a variety of mental health problems; and in 2013, she published DBT Made Simple, with the aim of making the therapy more accessible to both clients and clinicians. Sheri’s latest book, The DBT Skills Workbook for Teen Self-Harm was released in March, 2021. 



What’s RO DBT? A Brief Introduction

Karyn Hall, PhDDirector and Founder @Dialectical Behavior Therapies Center and DBTWise, Houston TX

Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO DBT) is an evidence-based treatment for people who suffer from emotional and behavior over-control and require interventions designed to relax rigid or inflexible control. Learn the basic differences between overcontrolled and undercontrolled coping styles, why loneliness is so important to address in treatment and yet difficult for many to overcome, and some of the basic principles of RO DBT. 

Dr. Karyn Hall is the director and founder of the Dialectical Behavior Therapies Center and DBTWise in Houston, Texas. DBTWise is a training company for psychotherapists. She is the second RO DBT supervisor in the States, and is certified by the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification in DBT. Dr. Hall blogs for Psychology Today and is the author of Mindfulness Exercises for DBT Therapists, SAVVY, and The Emotionally Sensitive Person. She is the co-author of The Power of Validation and a co-author of The Radically Open DBT Workbook for Eating Disorders: From Overcontrol and Loneliness to Recovery and Connection which will be published in May 2022. She is currently working on an RO DBT family program and manual.




Personality disorder in young people: now is the time to act

Andrew Chanen, MDOrygen, Melbourne, Australia, Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia

Personality disorder usually has its onset in the period between puberty and emerging adulthood (young people) and has enduring effects on education, employment, social relationships, mental and physical health, quality of life and life expectancy. Yet, diagnosis of personality disorder is often delayed and ‘late intervention’ or ‘no intervention’ is common, reinforcing therapeutic pessimism about people with personality disorder. Over the past two decades, a large body of research has provided a firm basis for establishing early diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, effective early intervention is not reliant upon availability of specialist psychotherapy. However, in order to fully realise this ambition, we must overcome discrimination from within the health professions and integrate early intervention for personality disorder with mainstream youth mental health services.

Andrew Chanen is Director of Clinical Programs and Services and Head of Personality Disorder Research at Orygen in Melbourne, Australia. He is also a Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne. Andrew’s clinical, research and knowledge translation interests lie in prevention and early intervention for severe mental disorders, principally personality disorder, along with mood and psychotic disorders. He established and directs the Helping Young People Early (HYPE) prevention and early intervention program for severe personality disorder in young people. HYPE has been recognised with several awards for advancing healthcare. Andrew currently receives grant funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council. He has over 170 scientific publications. He serves on several Editorial Boards and on a number of expert mental health groups. He is a Past President of the International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders and the recipient of the 2017 Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Severe Personality Disorders from the Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Centre and Personality Disorder Institute, New York. 




Dialectics and Finding Balance

Gillian C. Galen, PsyD—Program Director at 3East Adolescent DBT Intensive Residential, McLean Hospital and Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry

Gillian C. Galen, PsyD, is a senior child and adolescent psychologist specializing in dialectical behaviour therapy. She has extensive experience diagnosing and treating adolescents and young adults who struggle with emotion dysregulation, anxiety, depression, trauma, and self-endangering behaviours, such as self-injury and suicidal behaviours. She is the co-author with Dr. Blaise Aguirre of several popular books on DBT, including the recent DBT for Dummies.




Conversations around Family Connection skills

Alan Fruzzetti, of the Family Connections program

Dr. Alan Fruzzetti entertains questions about Family Connection Skills.



I know what to do, I just can't do it!

Blaise Aguirre, MD—Medical Director at the 3East Continuum at McLean Hospital

Dr. Aguirre is an expert in child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and medication evaluation and management. He is nationally and internationally recognized for his extensive work in the treatment of mood and personality disorders in adolescents. Dr. Aguirre is the author of several books and lectures regularly in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East on borderline personality disorder and DBT. In this webinar, Dr. Aguirre discusses some of the challenges faced by people learning and using DBT skills during difficult moments and tips for overcoming these.



BPD Relationships and Trauma

Dr. Skye FitzpatrickDirector of the TULIP (Treating & Understanding Life-Threatening Behaviour and Post-traumatic Stress) Research Lab at York University.

Dr. Fitzpatrick discusses what is known about how BPD impacts family and partner relationships, including: how people with BPD navigate relationships, how BPD symptoms impact and are impacted by communication problems in a relationship, and trauma and PTSD in family members of someone with BPD.




Intersection of Mental Health and Substance Use in Youth

Adina Hauser—MSW, RSW clinical lead for the Transitional Youth Program at Michael Garron Hospital.

Adina Hauser addresses issues around the intersection of mental health and substance use in youth, and offers guidance on skills and strategies that may be helpful to family members when their loved ones turn to substances to cope.




Lived Experience of Recovery: A Personal Journey

Chyann Garrick—model, actress, entrepreneur.

Chyann shares insights about her lived experience of BPD, and her personal story of determination and recovery.




Pathways Forward: Cultivating Hope After a Suicide Loss

Alex Shendelman—Program Manager, Suicide and Homicide Loss Support Program, Distress Centres of Greater Toronto.

Alex  Shendelman discusses the impact of a suicide loss and how survivors of suicide can come to terms with the loss and potentially regain hope.




Current Research on Effective Treatments for PTSD and BPD

Dr Skye Fitzpatrick—Director of the TULIP (Treating & Understanding Life-Theatening Behaviour and Posttraumatic Stress) Research Lab at York University.

Dr. Fitzpatrick discusses how PTSD overlaps with BPD, and how it can impact relationships (eg., family relationships). She will also review the current understanding of treatments for BPD and PTSD.




Managing Grief and Loss(Audio only)

Alan Fruzzetti, PhD

This webinar was given in response to the loss of head coach Kevin Thorburn of ESWIM club to all those impacted by his passing.




Discover Mindfulness: What It Is and What It Isn't

Karen WaddellCFM Qualified MBSR Teacher 

One reason we might want to practice mindfulness is that most of the time we are unwittingly practicing its opposite. This is a gentle introduction to mindfulness by Sashbear supporter and MSBR teacher, Karen Waddell.




Understanding Emotion Dysregulation in BPD

Alex Chapman, Ph.D.

This webinar discusses what we know about how borderline personality disorder (BPD) develops, the role of emotions in BPD, some cutting edge research on the treatment of BPD, as well as how clinicians help people better understand and manage their emotions.




Coping with Emotion Dysregulation During COVID 19

Molly Martha Roberston, Ph.D.

This webinar discusses principles of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and how to tailor and incorporate specific approaches and skills to support family members with Emotion Dysregulation through the challenges of the current pandemic.




Mentalizing: what it is and how to do it

Carla Sharp, Ph.D.

Dr. Carla Sharp is Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston in Texas, and conducts research into Borderline Personality Disorder in children and adolescents. She has conducted several pioneering studies in this field and has published over 260 publications in journals, articles and books. In 2016 she was the recipient of the mid-career award from the North American Society for the Study of Personality Disorders. She was recently the recipient of the 2018 Award for Achievement in the Field of Severe Personality Disorder from the the Personality Disorders Institute and Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center.

Research shows that our capacity to mentalize help foster mutually rewarding relationships with others. In this talk, Carla Sharp, Ph.D, will introduce participants to the concept of mentalizing, and how it can be utilized to improve the quality of relationships with loved ones.




Superparenting 101:  Tips on raising a supersenser

Francheska Perepletchikova, Ph.D.Founding Director of the Youth-Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program that focuses on treatment of children, adolescents and young adults within the DBT model

Dr. Perepletchikova has a long-standing interest in emotion regulation, trauma-related psychopathology, suicidality and self-harm behaviours. She discusses some of the most essential aspects of parenting emotionally sensitive children.




Youth, Substance Use and Harm Reduction

Adina Hauser, MSW RSW

We are pleased to welcome back clinical social worker, Adina Hauser. In this presentation, she follows up on her well-received presentation from November: Managing the Complicated Relationship between Mental Health and Substance Use in Youth. This time she will introduce the concept of harm reduction and how this approach can help us support our youth who use substances.




Eating Disorders & Emotion Dysregulation: 

Dr. Anita Federici

In this presentation, Anita Federici, Ph.D., C.Psych., will address the following topics:

- Common signs and symptoms

- Current information on causes and maintaining factors

- Adapted biosocial theory for eating disorders

- How an eating disorder impacts emotion regulation

- Treatment options and pathways

- Strategies and help for parents (e.g., validating without enabling the ED).




Discover Falling Awake Mindfully:

Incorporating Present Moment Awareness To Your Day

Karen Waddell

Karen Waddell joins us again to follow up on her previous presentation "Mindfulness: What it is and what it isn't" in June 2020. In this presentation, Karen will discuss how we can "fall awake" and benefit from bringing mindfulness of the present to even the smallest moments of our day.


You can watch Karen's June presentation here:



Indigenous Cultural Safety and Humility

Len Pierre

As part of Sashbear's commitment to the journey of Truth and Reconciliation, we invite you to join us for a presentation with Indigenous thought leader Len Pierre. 

Cultural safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the health care system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care.

Cultural humility is a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.









Helpful Resources during these difficult times

NEABPD, which oversees Family ConnectionsTM internationally, is offering a series of webinars for family members who are supporting a loved one with Emotion Dysregulation or BPD during this difficult time. They are covering many of the topics we discuss in Family Connections groups, including the Transactional Model, Validation, and Limits.

You may register for upcoming webinars here

These webinars are also being recorded and you can watch the recordings here


Frequently Asked Questions

Feedback from the school talks has been extremely positive from both students and staff. We have also received an excellent collection of questions from students. Your feedback is very important to us so here are some of the answers to those questions. 

Questions from student presentations have been answered by mental health professionals.  Questions directed by Sasha's family were answered by Sasha's parents.


General questions about Suicide

To answer questions about suicide we have put together a separate information page specific to this topic.

Read more

General questions about BPD/Mental health

What’s the difference between bipolar and BPD?

Bipolar is a disorder where mood states last for weeks, whereas BPD is a disorder where a person has a hard time regulating their emotions, and these situations generally last only a few hours.

Who should we tell or how can we help if we think someone has BPD?

If you worry someone has BPD first speak to the person that you are worried about them. They might already be getting help. If they continue to express worrisome behavior you should seek out a trusted adult or school nurse.

How long does BPD last?

For most people about 4 years after initial diagnosis by current research.

I might have had this when I was younger I got help now I am better. Do I have anything to worry about?

You might always be emotionally sensitive. Pay attention to old habits reappearing.

What are the early signs of BPD?

Being very emotionally sensitive. Telling stories in your head that have no data to back up the story.

Are you born with mental illness/BPD?

Mostly you are born with the vulnerability to develop mental illness and BPD.

What usually triggers people to get BPD?

Abuse, trauma and so-called invalidation can all trigger BPD

Are there different levels or degrees to BPD?

Generally people need 5/9 symptoms for the diagnoses to be made, but we see people with only one or two symptoms and others with all 9.

Is medication ever the best solution to treat mental illness or does it cause more harm than good?

Sadly no medication appears to help reduce the symptoms of BPD

Are there any official tests for BPD?

No biological tests, however some semi structured interviews can be useful

How can you prevent mental illness?

At this point there is no way to do so, however we can all practice healthier mental health habits (for instance regular exercise and staying away from drugs)

Is there any way that a person can get help without talking to friends, family etc?

Can you talk to a teacher, priest, school councilor?

Do you think that someone can live happy even when affected by BPD?


Are athletes more likely to have BPD?

This is unlikely, because the level of capacity you need to regulate your emotions at high level sports. Although some high profile athletes like Brandon Marshall have admitted they have BPD, he has also acknowledged that it took a great deal of emotion regulation ability to be able to perform at the highest level and he has attributed this ability to the treatment he received.

What are leading causes of BPD?

This is still unknown, however it is considered to be 60% due to genetics and 40% due to the environment.

Is BPD the same as depression?

No. Many people with BPD experience depression however, depression is considered to be a problem with how neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) work. The sadness or misery in BPD has more to do with feeling a lack of connection, fearing abandonment and feeling misunderstood.

Would a person with BPD have to go to a therapist in order to get help and what kind of help would he/she get?

Ideally a person with BPD WOULD go to a therapist to get help. There are many forms of treatment for BPD these days. The best known is DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy).

What gender is most prone to BPD?

In most studies, research shows that the gender ratio is 3 women to 1 man, however some studies have shown that it could be closer to 50/50.

How do you overcome mental stress?

There are many ways to do so. Mindfulness meditation is one, and my personal favorite, however regular exercise and, perhaps most importantly, good quality sleep are ideal and inexpensive ways to deal with stress.

How can we notice that our kids have mental problems?

The most important feature is when there is a sudden and rapid change in behavior such as a sudden change in friends, a decrease in communication, an increase in isolation and a drop in grades or school attendance.

When an individual has BPD is it always clear to them?

No it is not always clear to them or their loved ones, however, if their style of interaction gets them into regular conflict in relationships, at school or at work, it might be an indication that there is a problem.

Is meditation a good way to regulate your emotions?

Meditation Mindfulness is an EXCELLENT way to regulate your emotions and in my opinion, the best way to do so!


Question on How to help/How to get help

Sometimes I get tired of trying to help my friend. I feel like it’s always give, give, give and I get fed up because it’s like she doesn’t want to listen. How or what do I do to get through to her? How do you get your friends to open up?

Your friend will only open up if and when she feels ready to do so. If you feel that she does not want to listen you might let her know that..

What do you do if your friend doesn’t want help?

I have not found a way to help someone who absolutely does not want help. However most people don’t know how to ask for help.

How do I help a friend that is depressed or shows signs of bulimia, anorexia, cutting or do illegal drugs?

First talk to them and then if that does not change things speak to a trusted adult about the situation.

What do you do if a friend is cutting her wrists and tells me she has been trying to kill herself?

This is a situation where you MUST tell your parents or her parents.

What do you do if someone talks behind your back and you feel like not knowing what to do?

We can never know what it is that someone is actually saying behind our backs. Don’t assume that you know.

What do you say when people say "whoever commits suicide is a coward or quitter?"

I would say that people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts are often depressed or hopeless and rather than our judgments they need our love, our help and our compassion.

How many people have Borderline Personality Disorder? How common or rare is it?

2-6% of the population.

Is it possible that someone in my school has BPD?

Very likely yes.

What if you suspect a family member has a mental health issue and she/he won’t admit to it, she/he can’t be trusted and she/he completely pushed you away?

You should openly share your concerns, however you can never force someone to deal with a situation they don’t want to address.

Why don’t people look at the good they have done and appreciate them and stop dwelling on the bad they do? Or just forget about it and move on?

This is because powerful emotions like guilt and anger are often attached to these memories and most of us never learn to let go of powerful emotions.


Questions directed to Sasha's family

In looking back now as Sasha’s parents did you see any signs that suggest she was suffering from BPD before she was 10?

We did not notice any signs to suggest Sasha was suffering from BPD before she was 10.  In looking back, signs probably started to appear when she was around 12 or so.

How is it coping with your loss/ your daughter’s death?  How can others cope with it?  Do you feel you’ve accepted her death?
What is it like losing a child?  Does it add mental stress?

It is painful beyond words to loose a child. We have had unbelievable support from friends and family and this makes a world of difference. In addition, we have and continue to receive grieving counselling which is very helpful to us. The work our sashbear making waves group is trying to do to raise awareness on BPD inspires us and gives us strength to move on, to pursue her cause. You can never get over loosing a child, but with time you can get used to it. We miss Sasha every day and always will but we must allow ourselves to be happy, to smile and enjoy life, to cherish those dear to us who are still here, none more than our wonderful daughter Kayla.

How do you move on from losing someone close due to suicide?

The most difficult aspect for us was to deal with the natural sense of blame, responsibility and second guessing one feels when something like this happens.  But in the end for us it is important to accept that we cannot control everything, that we did the best we could given what we knew.

Why did the doctor just give up on Sasha in 2007?

We believe that stigma and lack of medical system support resulted in a missed opportunity for Sasha to get help early.  We take the phrase “we are doing the best we can and we can do better” to heart and we believe it also applies to the doctor in Sasha’s case.  Part of our mission is to help change that, so that missed opportunities like that don’t happen to others.

What do you say when people say “whoever commits suicide is a coward or quitter”?

We don’t see people who die by suicide as cowards or quitters, just people who in the height of their pain and suffering were not able to see that life is worth living even though the road to get there may be very difficult

  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better...
  • Let's remove stigma from mental illness and Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • We are all in this together, you are not alone...
  • Validation before problem solving...
  • Emotion Regulation Disorder is the new name for Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • Let's teach DBT skills in schools...
  • Let's intervene, let's intervene early...
  • Show me compassion and empathy first, don't just tell me how to change
  • Let go of judgments and believe in me so that I can believe in myself
  • Accept me so that I can better accept myself
  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better next time
  • Take care of yourself then you can attend to others
  • Be mindful - Observe, describe, participate effectively
  • Observe your own emotions rise and that of others, pause then engage effectively
  • Strive to be wise, not just rational or emotional
  • Change what you can, accept what you cannot
  • Validation is not agreement
  • Validate, Validate Validate
  • Be supportive, let go of judgements
  • We can't control having strong emotions but we can change how we respond to them
  • Hope is everything and is always there even when I cannot see it
  • BPD is more common than Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder combined 6%
  • The suicide rate of BPD victims is 400 times that of general population
  • BPD is the third leading killer of young women between the ages of 15-24
  • 1 of 5 seek help, 4 of 5 benefit from treatment
  • 4,000 young people die by suicide per year in Canada
  • I am not the disorder. I am a person
  • Stop the Stigma - by Speaking Up
  • Living with BPD is like not having an emotional skin
  • Genetic vulnerabilities and invalidating environment could lead to BPD
  • Breathe
  • Mindfulness is not what you think
  • Mindfulness is being present moment to moment
  • Mindfulness is just observing, paying attention to non-judgement
  • Patience, trust, non-striving and acceptance
  • Mindfulness does not come by takes practice
  • Let your breath be your anchor to observe thoughts as they arise
  • Observe thoughts as they come and go like waves on the ocean
  • Pay attention to what you are actually paying attention to
  • What we frequently think we become
  • Turning my auto-pilot off
  • Only that day dawns to which we are awake - Thoreau Walden
  • It is a radical act of love to just just down and be quiet for a time by YOURSELF
  • You are HERE!
  • Make each moment count!
  • I am a valuable part of all that EXISTS
  • I am Love. ALL is Love
  • The practice of mindfulness is not to follow your heart but to train your heart
  • It's OK, let it be
  • Smile at thoughts, they are empty. The only power thoughts have is the power you give them
  • The benefit will come to your life with consistent mindfulness practice everyday
  • Whatever you do to make it mindful!
  • Kindness is pure wisdom
  • Mindfulness is free or craving, want or hate
  • Be gentle to yourself as well as others
  • When you feel connected to someone that connection gives you purpose
  • Practice kindness whenever possible. It's always possible - Dalai Lama