It is September, which means something to me. It is Suicide Prevention Month. Since I became a mental health advocate in my early 20’s I’ve been reading a lot about suicide stats and it continues to blow me away every time I read a new stat. It is mind blowing and heart breaking all at the same time.
- Approximately 11 people in Canada will end their lives by suicide today
- Over 800,000 people in the world die by suicide each year
- 4 out of 5 people that die by suicide have had at least one previous attempt
- Males die by suicide more than 3 times as often as females
- Three times more women than men attempt suicide
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds
I have also recently learned that the Cariboo (the region I live in, in British Columbia) has the highest suicide rates in any area in BC. I don’t even know where to begin with my feelings on this. There is a part of me that is not surprised, unfortunately. I am a mental health resource service user, I am studying to work in the area of mental health, I’m on the CMHA board for our local chapter, and my husband is a police officer. I see it all around me. There are HUGE gaps in the schools, hospital, and services here. It is one of the most frustrating things I have ever had to watch. People being turned away from the hospital or sent to other hospitals with no follow-up. Teenagers falling through the cracks in their schools and no one watching or realizing or maybe even caring to see the path they are going down. There’s also the fact that we live in the “middle of nowhere” and are majorly lacking resources. I’ve BEEN there. I’ve been that person who is thinking about suicide and I’ve been that person who has attempted suicide. I KNOW that these things are preventable.
So what can we do for a friend or family member who we feel is thinking about suicide?
The most important thing you can do is listen. Give them your undivided attention and take them seriously without judgment. Be sincere – tell them you love them and that you are there for them – and show it.
Encourage them. Encourage them by helping them find resources or finding phone numbers to mental health practitioners. Even escorting them to appointments or attending groups with them always helps as well. This shows them that they are loved and cared for.
An important thing to note is that if a friend or family member says they are thinking about suicide and have a plan (maybe even a time and place), it is pertinent you contact a crisis or emergency resource.
If you are currently thinking about suicide, please find the crisis lines for your province here:
And please remember, you are never alone.