September is Suicide Prevention Month: Talking about suicide saves lives

Published on September 09, 2020

Suicide Prevention Ribbon

By Cassandra Singelakis

Every year, 160 million people worldwide contemplate suicide and, tragically, 800,000 of them die by suicide. On average, suicides claim the lives of 12 Canadians per day, totalling over 4,000 deaths per year of which 1,100 are from Quebec residents.

During these unprecedented times of COVID-19, the importance of mental health and our overall well-being has and should receive more attention than usual. Throughout the pandemic, it is not uncommon for people to report an overwhelming sense of loneliness, isolation and multiple disruptions in their daily routine.

Some ways to provide support

People often fear intervening although reaching out to someone in need can change the course of their life. Because talking about suicide is so difficult, listening with a non-judgmental ear can help lessen feelings of isolation and remind the person that others care about them. If you approach a family member, friend or colleague you believe might be suicidal, tell them you’ve noticed changes in their behaviour, be respectful and share your concerns. Ask if the person is okay. It’s normal to feel uneasy and it can indeed be scary. Asking if someone is thinking about suicide does not push them into action but instead:

  • it breaks isolation which can distort their fears, sense of hopelessness and embarrassment.
  • it breaks the silence and sends a powerful message that they are not alone, that they are cared for and that it is okay to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
  • it gives people the opportunity to express their fear(s) and consider other options.
    (Ontario Suicide Prevention Network)

Suicide is often less about wanting to die, and rather a feeling or belief that one has run out of options.

When someone is struggling, here is how you can help:

  • check in with the person regularly
  • listen actively and supportively to what they have to say
  • remember that you do not have to have all the answers
  • have on hand and share available resources of the area
  • assist in finding additional information as needed without taking over which can reinforce a sense of helplessness

Remember, talking about suicide saves lives.

Taking care of your self

Supporting a suicidal friend, family member or colleague can be taxing. It can affect you emotionally, bring you to a state of constant worry and make you feel responsible for one’s well-being. It’s imperative that you remember to take time to care for yourself when caring for a loved one.

Crisis and suicide prevention centres can offer support to both those who are struggling and those who are in a supportive role.

Suicide Action Montreal

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