September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, an annual initiative to promote awareness and foster understanding of suicide and the impact it has on individuals and communities. World Suicide Prevention Day also serves as a call to action and a reminder that suicides are preventable, and much can be done to prevent suicide at individual, community and national levels.
This years’ theme is Creating Hope through Action.
Creating Hope Through Action is a reminder that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling. Preventing suicide is often possible and you are a key player in its prevention.
It can be as simple as sending a message to those who are in despair, those who are grieving, and those who are supporting someone who is struggling with life’s challenges. By spreading the word that hope, help and healing are possible, we can work together to prevent suicide.
Talking about suicide can provide relief and being a listener is the best intervention anyone can give. Here are a few ways you can help:
- Take all threats or attempts seriously.
- Be aware and learn warning signs of suicide.
- Be direct and ask if the person is thinking of suicide. If the answer is yes, ask if the person has a plan and what the timeline is.
- Be non-judgmental and empathetic.
- Do not minimize the feelings expressed by the person.
- Do not be sworn to secrecy…seek out the support of appropriate professionals.
- Ask if there is anything you can do.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate assistance:
Call or Text:
- Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-429-8167 [toll-free]
- Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team: 1-902-429-8167
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 | Text CONNECT to 686868
- Emergency: 9-1-1 or go to the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital
- Talk Suicide Canada | Text 45645 | Call 1.833.456.4566.
Suicidal thoughts are complex. The factors and causes that lead to suicide are complex and many. No single approach works for everyone. What we do know is that there are certain factors and life events that may make someone more vulnerable to suicide and mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression can also be a contributing factor. People who are suicidal may feel trapped or like a burden to their friends, family and those around them and thus feel like they are alone and have no other options. The COVID-19 Pandemic has contributed to increased feelings of isolation and vulnerability. By creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them.
You can help give someone hope by showing that you care. All of us can play a role, no matter how small. We may never know what we do that makes a difference. We all can reach in and ask somebody. You do not need to tell them what to do or have solutions, but simply making the time and space to listen to someone about their experiences of distress or suicidal thoughts can help. Small talk can save lives and create a sense of connection and hope in somebody who may be struggling.
Stigma is a major barrier to help-seeking. Changing the narrative around suicide through the promotion of hope can create a more compassionate society where those in need feel more comfortable in coming forward to seek help. We can all do something to live in a world where suicide is recognized and we can all do something to help prevent it.
The insights and stories of people with a lived experience of suicide can be extremely powerful in helping others understand suicide better and encourage people to reach in to support someone, and for individuals to reach out for help themselves. It’s really important that the person sharing their story knows how to do so in a way that is safe for them and for those who hear their story.
Personal stories of an individual’s experiences of significant emotional distress, suicidal thoughts or attempt, and their experiences of recovery can inspire hope in others that they too can move through the period of distress or crisis, and their insights can help others understand what it means to feel suicidal and how they can support others.
Individuals sharing experiences of being bereaved through suicide and how they came to live their ‘new normal’, can help others experiencing suicidal loss make sense of the devastation of suicide and believe they will be able to live through and with the loss.