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Suicide Prevention

What is suicide?

Suicide means ending your own life by anymeans. A “suicide attempt” means that someone tried to end their life but did not die.

What are some signs of suicide? (Suicide Crisis Helpline, 2024)

  • What they might talk about:
    • Thinking about suicide or wanting to die, even if it seems like they’re joking
    • Having a plan or having thoughts about how they might end their life
    • Having feelings of hopelessness, that things will never get better
    • Feeling lonely or disconnected
    • Saying that they don’t care about future or that nothing matters
    • Saying goodbye or saying that they’ll miss you
  • How they might behave:
    • Seeming angry, short-tempered or irritated
    • Crying more frequently
    • Withdrawing from activities they normally enjoy
    • Not wanting to spend time with friends or loved ones
    • Not sleeping well or sleeping a lot
    • Changes to how they eat
    • Using alcohol or substances more than usual
    • Increased engagement in high risk behaviours such as reckless driving, dangerous sports or activities
    • Give away possessions or making plans for after their death

Who can I reach out to?

Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC

  • 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) 
  • For individuals experiencing thoughts of suicide or those supporting someone in this situation, the service is accessible around the clock, every day of the week, and in up to 140 languages. This service is operated in collaboration with the Crisis Line Association of BC.

Suicide Crisis Helpline

  • 9-8-8
  • Calling 9-8-8 is toll-free across Canada from any device.
  • Available 24/7 in English and French.
  • If you would like to speak to someone in another language, this may be available by phone, via an interpreter. Just let the responder know when you first get through to them.
  • For more information, please refer to Suicide Crisis Helpline.

When should I call 9-1-1 (Suicide Crisis Helpline, 2024)

  • It’s an emergency and you need the police, firefighters, or an ambulance.
  • You have tried to seriously hurt yourself or end your life very recently.
  • You plan to seriously hurt yourself or end your life within the next few minutes.
  • You are with someone else who has seriously hurt themselves or tried to end their life.
  • You think you are very likely to hurt someone else

How can I lessen the risk of suicide? (HeretoHelp, 2023 ; Suicide Crisis Helpline, 2024)

  • Build connections with other people:
    • Spend time with family and friends
    • Go to cultural or religious events
    • Get involved in your community. E.g., Community events, volunteer acitivities, charity, etc.
  • Talk to someone you trust:
  • Get help right away. Call the 9-8-8 hotline or 1-800-784-2433
  • Make your environment safer:
    • If it is safe to do so, get rid of anything in your environment that could be used to harm yourselves.
    • You can ask someone you trust to do this for you
    • E.g., medicine, sharps, weapons, etc.
  • Build your own coping methods:
    • This can vary from person-to-person
    • Is usually a task that provides temporary distraction from your thoughts or feelings.
    • E.g., going for a walk, listening to music, taking a shower, engaging in a hobby, doing chores, reading, etc.

Myths about suicide (Suicide Crisis Helpline, 2024)

  • Suicide is caused by mental illness (Myth!):
    • There is no single cause of suicide. Having a mental health me problem can increase your risk of suicide, but many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s thoughts of ending their life.
    • It isn’t necessarily the nature of the loss or stress that makes someone want to end their life — it’s the feeling that these things are unbearable.
    • DO NOT be afraid to reach out!
  • Suicide can be predicted (Myth!):
    • Even trained professionals cannot always predict who will end their life. 
    • It is never anyone’s fault for “missing” the flags, or failing to predict and prevent suicide. 
    • However, there are signs that someone may be thinking about suicide, and we can always open a conversation.
  • It’s dangerous to ask someone if that are considering suicide (Myth!):
  • Suicide is a sign of weakness (Myth!):
    • Suicide is not a moral weakness or a character flaw. It is not selfish or a cry for attention. These ideas are all part of the stigma that surrounds suicide.
    • Stigma can cause someone who is thinking about suicide to believe that their feelings are something to be ashamed of. It is dangerous and can stop people from seeking help.
  • People considering suicide only want to end their life (Myth!):
    • Most people who attempt suicide don’t necessarily want to die, but they do want to end their emotional pain.
    • They may be overcome with hopelessness and unable to see another way out of their situation.
    • But thoughts of suicide can pass, and people who have thought about or attempted suicide in the past can go on to live full and rich lives when they receive the support they need.
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