• Linda Nguyen

Suicide Prevention and Resources

Suicide is the act of someone intentionally ending their own life. Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about, and rightfully so. Those who are considering suicide may feel ashamed or guilty about their thoughts. They can feel alone, hopeless and helpless. They may fear opening up to others due to the stigma and misunderstandings surrounding suicide. If you ever had thoughts of suicide, know that you are not alone. It may not feel like it right now, but it does get better. If you suspect that someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, know that there are ways you can support them. However, know that it may be difficult, and you should set boundaries and always take care of yourself first.


What are the statistics of suicidal behaviour?

  • Around 4000 Canadians die from suicide every year

  • Suicide is the second-highest cause of death among youth

  • Out of those who complete suicide, most are men in their 40s and 50s

  • Women are 3-4 times more likely to attempt suicide than men

  • Men are 3 times more likely to complete suicide via Canadian Mental Health Association - Calgary

It is important to note that these numbers may not be accurate as some suicides are reported as accidents, drug overdoses or shootings.


What are some myths about suicidal behaviour?

Those who are suicidal want to die

Those who are considering suicide have thoughts about death. However, many do not want to end their life. They only want to escape their current emotions or circumstances. It is how they feel about their circumstances and not the circumstances themselves.

Talking about suicide will encourage those at risk to attempt suicide

Research has shown talking about suicide is unlikely to increase the risk. It is important to talk to talk to your loved ones and express your concern and willingness to help. Having an honest but difficult conversation can reduce stigma and allow exploration of different coping skills. Remember that suicide is still a sensitive topic, and not all conversations are helpful or appropriate. You may not always know what to say, and that’s okay. In these situations, it is best to refer the person to a mental health professional.

Only those with mental illnesses consider suicide.

Many mental illnesses have a higher risk of suicide, mainly depression, along with anxiety and substance abuse. Over half of the instances of suicide are committed by those with depression. Up to 20% of those with untreated depression are at risk of suicide at some point over their lifetime. It is important to emphasize that all mental illnesses increase the risk of suicide. But what is equally important, is that an individual with no history of any mental illnesses can still be suicidal.


What are some risk factors for suicide?

  • Physical and mental illness - particularly depression

  • Hallucinations and delusion

  • Past attempts of suicide

  • Family history: mental illness, substance use, suicide (attempts/completed)

  • Access to means of suicide: firearms and other weapons, prescription or illegal drugs, carbon monoxide

  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)

  • Incarceration

  • An impulsive or aggressive tendency

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, desperation

  • Barriers to mental health resources

  • Unwillingness to seek help due to stigma

What are some warning signs that someone may be considering suicide?

  • Depression-related symptoms: immense sadness, hopelessness, lack of interest, isolation

  • Out of character behaviour: increase impulsivity, aggressiveness, carelessness

  • A sudden change of mood - sometimes pleasant, cheerful and happy

  • Giving significant possessions away

  • Mentions of death and suicide in conversations

  • Preparation for death: writing a will, taking out insurance

How do I help someone I know who is considering suicide?

  1. Talk to them Remember that suicide is a sensitive topic, so ensure that you are respectful and maintain the person’s privacy. Express your concern and offer your support. Listen to the person without judgement. Do not dismiss their thoughts or feelings. You may not know what to say or what to do. Do not feel as if you need to offer advice. The most important thing is that the person feels heard and understood. Ask them if they have thoughts of suicide? If yes, ask them if they have a plan? If they have a plan and are at imminent risk of committing suicide, they must be immediately directed to a mental health professional. If this is not possible, call a crisis line, dial 911 or take them to a hospital.

  2. Help them access professional support If they are already seeing a mental health professional, help them make an appointment or offer to take them to an appointment. If they are not, offer to help them seek out resources and support. Encourage them to speak to their family doctor. Also, consider resources they can access through their school, workplace, or religious or cultural organizations

  3. Maintain contact and make arrangements for additional support Regularly check in on how they are doing. Let them know when you are available. Ask them what you can do to help. Encourage them to share with other people who they trust. Make arrangements, so they have someone they can contact at any time of the day.

  4. Creating a crisis management plan Some find it helpful to create a crisis management plan. This is best done under the guidance of a mental health professional. It can include: - Activities to distract from impulsive thoughts - List of numbers to call - including family, friends, mental health professionals, or crisis lines - A list of gratitudes and reasons to live - Safe places to go when it feels unsafe at home

What do I do if I am considering suicide?

  1. Talk to someone you trust. This can be your parent, friend, teacher, doctor, therapist, or coach. Express how you feel. Talk about where you think these feelings are coming from. Ask for support.

  2. Avoid alcohol and drugs Alcohol and drugs can intensify negative emotions and worsen your judgement. If you have a dependence or addiction, seek treatment.

  3. Remove possible means of suicide Suicidal behaviour is impulsive. By removing the means, you buy yourself time. In this time, you can overcome the impulse, use alternative coping strategies and ask for help. If you have a gun or weapon, ask someone you know to hold on to it for you. If you have excess prescription medication, dispose of it. Many pharmacies will take and properly dispose of unused medication.

  4. Connect with professional support If you are already seeing a mental health professional such as a therapist or counsellor, make sure you tell them that you are considering suicide. If you are not, consider seeking one out or asking your doctor for a referral. Mental health professionals are trained on how to deal with suicidal thoughts. They can help you work through your issues and implement coping strategies.

  5. Reach out for additional support Confide in those you trust and disclose how you are feeling. Ask for what you need, even if it’s as simple as someone checking in with you regularly to see how you are doing. Continue to engage with your supports as you need them.

  6. Creating a crisis management plan Some find it helpful to create a crisis management plan. This is best done under the guidance of a mental health professional. It can include: - Activities to distract from impulsive thoughts - List of numbers to call - including family, friends, mental health professionals, or crisis lines - A list of gratitudes and reasons to live - Safe places to go when it feels unsafe at home

If either you or someone you know is at imminent risk of hurting themselves, seek professional help immediately:

  • Call a crisis Line

  • Call your mental health provider

  • Call 911

  • Go to a local hospital

Resources:

National:

Canada Suicide Prevention Services

Phone: 1-833-456-4566 (24/7)

Text: 45645 (4PM-12AM ET)


In Alberta: (For both clients and those supporting those at risk)

Health Link: 811 (24/7)

Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642 (24/7)


For Teens:

Calgary ConnecTeen Chat: calgaryconnecteen.com

Phone: 403-264-8336 (24/7)

Text: 587-333-2724 (Daily)

In Calgary:

Calgary Distress Centre:

Phone: 403.266.4357 (24/7)

Chat: https://www.distresscentre.com/ ( 3PM-10PM MT)



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