Today, September 10th, has been dedicated to preventing suicide around the world. The intent, according to a news release issued today by Suicide Prevention Canada, is to:
“Support those bereaved by suicide, remember and celebrate the lives of those who died by suicide, support those who struggle with living, and renew our commitment to helping all Canadians reconnect with their reasons to live while building lives with dignity, purpose, and meaning.”
I’ve talked about suicide here on the blog many times. Because I believe that in order for us as a society to embrace mental health, we need to reduce the stigma and actually talk about mental illness. But today, I’m really struggling to write about suicide. And I know why. This past year, an old friend of mine from high school and my early 20s died by suicide (click here to see why I did not use the word “committed”). I hadn’t been in touch with her for years … but the news hit me like a punch in the throat, and then draped a sadness on me. It also forced me to consider how many old friends from high school are no longer here any more. I can name five.
If writing and sharing information and just speaking the word SUICIDE out loud can help even one person, we’ve just gotta do it. With this in mind then, I am sharing an excerpt from “Suicide: First Aid Guidelines” (click here for the entire guide, which I found to be straightforward and easy to read):
How can I tell if someone is feeling suicidal? (source: Suicide Prevention Canada)
It is important that you know the warning signs of suicide.
People may show one or many of these signs, and some may show signs not on this list.
If you suspect someone may be at risk of suicide, it is important to ask them directly about suicidal thoughts. Do not avoid using the word ‘suicide’. It is important to ask the question without dread, and without expressing a negative judgment. The question must be direct and to the point. For example, you could ask:
- “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or
- “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
If you appear confident in the face of the suicide crisis, this can be reassuring for the suicidal person.
Although some people think that talking about suicide can put the idea in the person’s mind, this is not true. Another myth is that someone who talks about suicide isn’t really serious. Remember that talking about suicide may be a way for the person to indicate just how badly they are feeling.
For Help …
If you are feeling isolated, alone, or grieving a loved one — there is help. Even if you’re not sure you want help, call anyways and speak with a professional who understands what you’re going through. In Ontario, a list of resources is available by clicking here. For all other provinces in Canada, a complete list is available by clicking here. If you are outside of Canada, call your emergency assistance number (often 9-1-1) and ask for your local crisis center number. These centers offer help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.