If someone you know is thinking of suicide, they can call 1-833-456-4566. If they require immediate care, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Most often, people experience suicidal thoughts when they have lost hope and feel helpless. They want their pain to end, and they may see no other way out.
It is important to remember that suicide is preventable. Most people who have suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide go on to live full, meaningful lives.
Know the signs
It may be difficult to know if a person is thinking about suicide, but familiarizing yourself with common warning signs can better prepare you to notice someone who is at risk.
People who are at risk for suicide may:
show a sudden change in mood or behaviour
show a sense of hopelessness and helplessness
express the wish to die or end their life
increase substance use
withdraw from people and activities that they previously enjoyed
experience changes in sleeping patterns
have a decreased appetite
give away prized possessions or make preparations for their death (for example, creating a will)
People at a higher risk of suicide include those who:
have a serious mental health and/or addiction problem
have had a recent major loss (for example, the death of a loved one or a job loss)
have a family history of suicide
have made previous suicide attempts
have a serious physical illness
have an impulsive personality
lack support from family or friends
have access to weapons, medications or other lethal means of suicide
How can I help someone who is at risk for suicide?
Listen to them and take them seriously.
Don’t judge or minimize their feelings. Be positive and hopeful, and remember that suicide can be prevented.
Ask them if they are having thoughts of suicide.
Don’t be afraid that you will put the idea in their head. It may be a relief for them to talk about it.
Ask if they have a plan.
Depending on their answer you may want to limit their access to lethal means, such as medication, knives or firearms.
Ask them to rate their suicidal feelings on a scale of one to 10.
Regularly ask them to tell you where they are on the scale, so you can assess if things are getting worse.
Let them know help is available.
It is important for them to know the cause of their suicidal thoughts can be successfully treated.
Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.
Some people may feel ashamed for thinking about suicide. You can help them overcome this by welcoming the conversation.
Encourage them to seek help from a doctor or mental health provider.
You can also offer to help with this if they would like.
Make a safety plan with them.
Who will they call if their feelings get stronger? Who can stay with them to keep them safe? Make a list of phone numbers of people and services they can call if they feel unsafe. Avoid leaving the person alone if they are in crisis.
Seek support for yourself.
It is important that you don’t carry this burden alone.