Posted: September 9, 2016
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To mark World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, GRH is asking loved ones and friends to reach out to help individuals showing warning signs of suicide risk.

“50 to 75 per cent of all people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intention,” said Patricia Patterson, a director in GRH’s mental health and addictions program. “If someone you know shows warning signs, the time to act is now.”

Warning signs are indicators of a more acute suicide risk. They include:

  • Talking about wanting to kill themselves, or saying they wish they were dead;
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as hoarding medicine or buying a gun;
  • Talking about a specific suicide plan;
  • Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live;
  • Feeling trapped, desperate, or needing to escape from an intolerable situation;
  • Having the feeling of being a burden to others;
  • Feeling humiliated;
  • Having intense anxiety and/or panic attacks;
  • Losing interest in things, or losing the ability to experience pleasure;
  • Insomnia;
  • Becoming socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family, and others;
  • Acting irritable or agitated; and/or
  • Showing rage, or talking about seeking revenge for being victimized or rejected, whether or not the situations the person describes seem real

Provided by Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council (link opens in a new tab)

Individuals who show such behaviors should be evaluated for possible suicide risk by a medical doctor or mental health professional.

Here are some ways you can provide support.

Ask questions

Begin by telling the suicidal person you are concerned about them. Tell them specifically what they have said or done that makes you feel concerned about suicide.

Don’t be afraid to ask whether the person is considering suicide, and whether they have a particular plan or method in mind. These questions will not push them toward suicide if they were not considering it.

Ask if they are seeing a clinician or are taking medication so the treating person can be contacted. 

Encourage professional help

Actively encourage the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately. People considering suicide often believe they cannot be helped. If you can, assist them to identify a professional and schedule an appointment. If they will let you, go to the appointment with them.

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Show support for the person

Do not try to argue someone out of suicide. Instead, let them know that you care, that they are not alone and that they can get help.

Avoid saying things like, “You have so much to live for,” or “Think about how this will hurt your family.” Instead, show concern and compassion by saying, “Things must really be awful for you to be feeling that way.”

Let them know you are there to listen. Encourage them to share what they are feeling. Let them know that people sometimes feel like there is no answer, but that treatment can help them to feel better. Tell them you will support them to find help.

Ask if they have a specific suicide plan. If they do, do not leave them alone, and take away any firearms, drugs, or objects they could use to hurt themselves.

If you’re worried about someone, take action:

If the person is threatening, talking about, or making specific plans for suicide, this is a crisis requiring immediate attention.

  1. Do not leave the person alone.
  2. Remove any firearms, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used for suicide from the area.
  3. Take the person to a walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital or a hospital emergency room.

If these options are not available, call 911 or Here 24/7 (opens in a new tab) at 1-844-437-3247 for assistance.

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