How to help if someone you know may be suicidal

September 10th is an important awareness day, recognized globally as ‘World Suicide Prevention Day‘. Suicide is not a topic any one of us is unfamiliar with, and headlines throughout the last year would prove that as well.

We know that a person dies every 40 seconds by suicide and up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. There are also many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has made an attempt. This World Suicide Prevention Day event is about our global community: to encourage us to engage with each other and to join together to spread awareness of suicide prevention. [International Association for Suicide Prevention]

The statistics can be startling, but it reminds that suicide is not rare, and it does not discriminate.

“When people end their own lives it leaves us in deep agony; it’s a tragically sad reminder of how precious the human experience is.” — Kim Barthel

Because suicidal thoughts and suicide itself can leave support people feeling helpless, it can be powerful to have some awareness around what could be a warning sign.

  • Have you noticed the person showing any dramatic mood changes?
  • Have you noticed the person’s behaviour at work or school changing? Their performance decreasing?
  • Have you noticed the person can seem out of touch with reality?

If you do happen to believe someone in your life is suicidal, here are some ways you can be helpful:

  • Stray from judgment and respond with empathy. 
  • Don’t try to minimize their situation or feelings, what they are feeling is very real to them.
  • Ask if there is anything you can do.
  • Take any threat or attempt at suicide very seriously.
  • Be direct in asking the person if they are thinking of suicide and if they say yes, seek out the help of appropriate professionals.

If you are struggling with thoughts that someone you love may be feeling suicidal, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has lots of resources online. Please be mindful of your own emotions if you are supporting someone who may be feeling suicidal, and seek professional help if need be.

You can take part in the conversation about suicide prevention on social media on September 10th using these hashtags:

  • #WorldSuicidePreventionDay
  • #WSPD2018
  • #WSPD
  • #SuicidePrevention



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