Pre­vent­ing sui­cide: How you can help

The McLeod River Post - - News - Sarah Cole Pub­lic health pro­mo­tion fa­cil­i­ta­tor Al­berta Health Ser­vices

More than 400 peo­ple die by sui­cide in Al­berta each year, ac­cord­ing to MyHealth. Al­berta.ca and the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. Septem­ber 10th is World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day. The In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Sui­cide Preven­tion’s theme this year is “Pre­vent­ing Sui­cide: Reach­ing Out and Sav­ing Lives”. Death by sui­cide can of­ten be pre­vented by learn­ing the warn­ing signs and tak­ing ac­tion.

Some warn­ing signs that some­one may be con­sid­er­ing sui­cide can in­clude be­com­ing with­drawn from friends, fam­ily and ac­tiv­i­ties. Be­ing iso­lated for long pe­ri­ods of time or ne­glect­ing per­sonal ap­pear­ance should also serve red flags. Talk­ing about death in con­ver­sa­tion, writ­ing or draw­ings, or mak­ing sui­ci­dal state­ments and giv­ing away per­sonal items should not be ig­nored.

Some­times peo­ple con­sid­er­ing sui­cide ex­hibit risky be­hav­iors, like driv­ing reck­lessly or hav­ing mul­ti­ple sex­ual part­ners. Act­ing ag­gres­sive and hos­tile, or low mood fol­lowed by sud­den cheer­ful­ness can also in­di­cate a pos­si­ble sui­cide risk.

Rec­og­niz­ing events or ex­pe­ri­ences that can trig­ger thoughts of self-harm is also im­por­tant. This can in­clude stress caused by pu­berty, chronic ill­ness, or financial trou­ble. The loss of a job, friend­ship/re­la­tion­ship, di­vorce, le­gal is­sues, or death of a loved one might also elicit thoughts of sui­cide.

Be aware of any re­cent ill­ness or changes in med­i­ca­tion, as well as a per­sonal or fam­ily his­tory of men­tal health con­cerns or ad­dic­tion. A pre­vi­ous sui­cide at­tempt or know­ing some­one who has died by sui­cide shouldn’t be ig­nored, par­tic­u­larly if the per­son has ac­cess to firearms or the means to com­plete sui­cide.

It is im­por­tant to take all threats of sui­cide se­ri­ously, even if it may seem in­signif­i­cant. Don’t be afraid to ask, “are you think­ing about sui­cide?” This will not put the idea in some­one’s head. In fact, it can be a re­lief to the per­son that you have asked them about sui­cide. You may be able to pre­vent a sui­cide by tak­ing the in­di­vid­ual se­ri­ously, lis­ten­ing to them and sup­port­ing ac­cess to pro­fes­sional help.

If you have ques­tions or con­cerns please call or visit your lo­cal Men­tal Health clinic. Ad­di­tion­ally, you can ac­cess the 24/7 con­fi­den­tial Men­tal Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.

Ev­ery loss of life is a tragedy, and some­times there are no warn­ing signs. It is not your fault. On Septem­ber 10th light a can­dle near a win­dow at 8pm to show your sup­port for sui­cide preven­tion, in mem­ory of a loved one and for the sur­vivors of sui­cide.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www. al­ber­ta­health­ser­vices.ca and https://myhealth.al­berta.ca, or call Health Link at 8-1-1.

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