Did you know one million people commit suicide every year? And another 20 million unsuccessfully try to take their lives every year? More people die from suicide than homicide, war or terrorism.
That’s why we acknowledge World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10. Out of 170 countries, Canada has the 70th highest suicide rate in the world. Canada may not have one of the highest rates in the world, but we don’t have much to brag about either. We need to do more work in suicide prevention and it starts at the individual level.
There are many ways we can look for signs if someone is suicidal. Sometimes suicidal people won’t ask for help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want any assistance. Most people who commit suicide don’t want to die, they just want the pain to stop. The best way to prevent suicide is to identify the warning signs and take them seriously.
They may talk about killing or hurting themselves, talk or write a lot about death or dying, and look for ways to take their own life, such as buying a firearm.
A big sign of suicide is hopelessness. Many studies have proven that feelings of hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide. Victims’ dark feelings overwhelm them. They believe they don’t have a future and have nothing to look forward to. They may even start writing a will, give away their belongings, and say goodbye to people.
There are a few things you can do if you know someone who could be at risk. First and most importantly, do everything you can to help them get the assistance they need. Call a crisis line for advice. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional. And be there for them. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, and invite them out to talk.
We need to do everything we can to ensure people who want to take their own life receive the help and treatment they need. After people receive treatment, their suicidal thoughts may disappear over time. Suicide can be a final decision but it doesn’t have to be.
If you know anyone who is at risk for harming themselves, please view this listing of Distress Centres to find the crisis hotline number in your community. For more information about suicide prevention, www.helpguide.org is an excellent webpage about suicide prevention. Also check out some new resources available to youth in Ontario.