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When There's Talk of Suicide


Facts about Suicide in Canada

Each day, 10 Canadians will end their lives by suicide, up to 200 more will attempt suicide, and up to 100 people will be left grieving.(1) In most cases, the person who commits suicide has tried before and made numerous attempts to reach out to others. More than ninety percent of suicides are associated with mental illness, such as depression or an addiction, and often include the interaction of other factors such as breakup of a relationship, a significant loss, financial hardship, or chronic illness and pain.(2)


Signs of Suicidal Thinking

A suicidal person may talk of self-destructive behavior: “Maybe I should just jump from that roof.” or “My family would be better off without me.” There may be sudden interest in firearms or poisons. They may write poetry about death or listen to music about suicide. If your friend or loved one is on medication, you may notice conspicuous overuse that could be lethal.


Other Warning Signs

Abuse of alcohol or drugs combined with depression, dramatic mood swings, statements of hopelessness, acting withdrawn from others, uncontrollable rage, a desire for revenge, or blatant recklessness represents emotional states of persons who have committed suicide or made serious attempts. Feeling trapped and having a high level of cynicism toward others or the employer are other risk factors associated with persons who have committed suicide in business and industry.


What Are They Feeling?

Many people have thoughts about suicide, but most will never make an attempt. Those that do make attempts may frequently focus on unresolved life problems. This can offer clues to their desperation. They may focus on unstoppable pain and say how there is no way out. They may not be to able sleep, eat, or work. They may experience profound depression and the inability to make sadness go away. They may not see themselves as worthwhile, or be unable to get someone’s attention whom they value.


Who’s at Risk?

Those at greatest risk of suicide have often experienced a disruptive life event such as the following:

  • Loss of a loved one

  • Divorce, separation, loss of child custody

  • Serious or terminal illness

  • Financial hardship or significant debt

  • Serious accident

  • Violence: rape, assault, kidnapping

  • Verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse

  • Chronic illness

  • Feeling that things will never get better

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

  • Ongoing bullying


Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do take suicidal comments seriously.

  • Do respond to suicidal statements.

  • Don’t act shocked or panicked.

  • Don’t say, “Oh, you don't mean that.”

  • Do ask what means are of killing oneself are being considered.

  • Don’t intervene alone.

  • Do encourage the person to seek professional help. Help find resources.

  • Do offer to take the person to get help.

  • Do get rid of any lethal means of committing suicide: guns, poison, etc.


Don’t Wait...Act

When a person makes a decision to commit suicide, they may suddenly become calm. Their decision provides relief because the suicidal person has found a “solution” to their problems. Do not ignore this state of calm or apparent wellness. The suicidal person may create a checklist of “to-dos” or give away belongings. If you think a friend or loved one is planning suicide, ask. Don’t let your fear of the answer inhibit you from asking this question. Most people considering suicide will talk about it. If necessary, act to get emergency help from the police so they can intervene. You may have to contact the police over the suicidal person’s objection. But if the suicidal act is imminent, delay will only make the risk of suicide more likely.


Act Fast Resources

If you need immediate help for yourself or a loved one call 911. Other resources include your employee assistance program, www.suicideprevention.ca (Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention).


Effect on Others

Each suicide affects many other people. Blame and guilt are common, and so are shock and denial. Some may get angry with the victim for making that choice. Loneliness and sorrow in those left behind can result in depression. Support groups are extremely helpful in healing traumatic wounds caused by suicide.


(1) Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Suicide in Canada


(2) Statistics Canada - Health at a Glance. Suicide Rates

Founded in 1974, we are a national provider of employee assistance programs (EAP), employee and family assistance programs (EFAP), workplace health & wellness solutions.

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