Preventing suicide: How you can help
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Some warning signs that someone may be considering suicide can include becoming withdrawn from friends, family and activities.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.