Suicide Prevention and Support Resources

Suicide is a national problem that affects people young and old, without regard to socioeconomic status, race, religion, or gender. On average, every day in Canada 11 people commit suicide and an additional 210 people attempt suicide. These numbers are shocking, but according to the World Health Organization, there are 40 global suicides every second. Although people of all ages commit suicide, an alarming number of younger people die at their own hands. With numbers in epidemic proportions, it’s crucial that we learn to identify the problem, look for ways to reach out to those looking for help, and support survivors of suicide.

Be on the lookout for warning signs

The stress and conditions that might drive someone to suicide are often hidden. Although it happens, it is rare for someone to vocalize an intent to self-harm or commit suicide. For this reason, it is incumbent of us as family, friends, coworkers, peers, educators, and leaders to communicate with our loved ones and interact with the people in our lives. Take people seriously if they talk about their hopelessness or dismiss themselves as burdens to others. These are the types of comments that are made frequently by those seeking to end their lives. Other behavior indicating the potential for suicide includes:

  • Acting withdrawn, especially from family or friends
  • Talking often about death or morbid topics
  • Describing themselves as trapped
  • Giving away possessions in preparation for something
  • Displaying reckless behavior

Understanding addiction’s role in suicide

Addiction is a suicide warning sign that warrants detailed discussion. For substance abusers, suicide rears its head in the form of intentional overdosing. There is a correlation between suicide and substance abuse. Those who are suicidal are desperately looking for relief. They try to find it in a substance, but that all to often just drags them deeper down to levels of depression that make suicide seem a rational idea.

When addiction or the other warning signs are present, it’s important to carefully consider what next steps to take to help.

How to approach a suicidal person

Once you see warning signs that concern you that someone is a suicide risk, studies show the best thing to do is to get the troubled person to open up and about their problems. This is easier said than done, for sure, but it can greatly reduce the risk of suicide. But like many things in life, frequent and open communication can help identify and resolve issues. And often, the troubled person just needs to vent.  

Counselors often ask a patient if he or she feels suicidal during the first few meetings. Then a comfort level is reached where the question goes away, but the tendencies may not, and the patient may have been reluctant to divulge personal information at early sessions. So it’s crucial to keep the question in the dialogue.

For non-professionals, it’s important to report your concerns to others and to ask the person you’re worried about directly. Since communication seems to cool down thoughts of suicide, it’s much better to be overly cautious. If you feel that you cannot communicate with the person, you can reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which also details steps on how to guide a suicidal person to safety.

There is more than one victim of suicide

Obviously, prevention is the main goal in dealing with a suicidal person, but the horror of a suicide profoundly affects survivors. As important as it is to be on the alert for suicidal behavior, we also need to be there for the survivors. Feelings of despair mix with shame for survivors, and they need to be comforted and reassured that you are there to talk with them, but also, that you value the life of their lost one. 

The national and global suicide epidemic can only be minimized through communication. We are all dependent on one another but have the unconscious tendency to shut out those who need us. It’s all of our responsibility to be on the watch for signs of suicidal behaviour and to help or find help for those who may be thinking of ending it all. The pain and damage does not end with their suicide, but prevention begins with a single question.


Article By: Melissa Howard

Photo Credit: Pexels