Suicide is often difficult to talk about openly, yet it is more common than many people think. Those who have a physical or mental illness, use alcohol or drugs, or experience a major loss or life change are the most likely to attempt suicide.
The circumstances that can lead someone to take his or her own life vary, but all people who consider suicide feel extreme hopelessness, helplessness and desperation.
By learning about and paying attention to warning signs, even if it means asking uncomfortable questions, adults or peers may help prevent a suicide and get professional help for people who are feeling suicidal.
Warning signs of someone at risk of suicide include
- repeated expression of hopelessness or desperation,
- behaviour that is out of character,
- a sudden and unexplained cheerful attitude,
- making preparations for death, or
- making remarks related to death and dying.
An expressed intent to attempt suicide should always be taken very seriously.
Preventing a suicide attempt
If you suspect someone is suicidal, reach out to the person and ask him or her about their suicidal intentions. It is important to show respect and take the situation seriously. Offer your support by encouraging the person to talk and urging them to get help. If the person wont seek help, take action yourself. Never promise to keep suicidal thoughts secret.
Teachers who are trying to prevent a suicide attempt should contact the principal and a suicide prevention resource person in the school or school division, such as a guidance counsellor, who knows how to work with these issues. Make sure that the parents are informed.
After a suicide
The complex sense of loss after a suicide can be overwhelming. Programs to help survivors of suicide are available.
For more information about suicide or to learn more about suicide prevention training programs, contact the Centre for Suicide Prevention at 403-245-3900.