Suicide Awareness

Risk factors

While no single risk factor predicts suicidal behaviour, it is helpful to be aware of circumstances that could contribute to being suicidal. A combination of these factors that would contribute to increased vulnerability of risk.

  • Previous attempts
  • Having a family member or a person close to them die by suicide
  • Exposure to family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Substantial drug or alcohol use
  • Eating disorders
  • Significant life transitions (e.g. death of a partner, job loss)
  • Mental health diagnoses (e.g. bipolar or other depressive disorders, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder)
  • Serious physical illness
  • Severe and long-lasting pain
  • Living with few or no significant social contacts
  • Feeling of being a burden to others
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Few or no significant sources for stress management and relief

Warning Signs

In addition to recognizing a pattern of risk factors in someone you know, it also helps to pay attention to warning signs—indicators, messages or behaviours that could be suicidal communications.

  • Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and/or, looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means; and/or, talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.
  • Saying they have no hope, feel trapped or feel there is no point in "going on".
  • Drinking more alcohol or using drugs, including prescription medicines.
  • No longer wanting to see people and spending increased time alone.
  • No longer taking care of themselves or following medical advice.
  • Giving away their things and/or hurrying to complete a will or settling other financial affairs.

For yourself

       What you can do to cope with suicidal thoughts

·            Connect with others:  If you think that you might do something to hurt yourself, tell someone. Make sure you are around someone you trust. If you live alone, ask a friend or family member to stay with you. Connect with professional help if needed. If you don’t know anyone or can’t reach friends or family members, call your local crisis line. If you feel you are at imminent risk of harming yourself, call 911 or go to the local hospital emergency department.

Call 416-408-HELP (4357)

For crisis lines outside of Toronto, visit Distress and Crisis Ontario for Ontario or for Canada.

·            Keep your home safe by getting rid of ways to hurt yourself

·            Remember things that have helped in the past

·            Get treatment for mental health concerns

·            Identify high-risk triggers or situations

·            Work on a safety plan

You can find a safety plan here:  Coping With Suicidal Thoughts

   ·            Think of reasons for living

   ·            Self-care: Take good care of yourself, including doing things you enjoy      

For others:

Things you can do:

Take any mention of suicide seriously. If someone you know is threatening to complete suicide, get help right away. Caregivers should try to find out whether the person:

  • Has the means (e.g. weapon or medicine) available to complete suicide or do harm to another person.
  • Has set a time and place to end their life.
  • Thinks that there is no other way to end the pain.  If a suicide threat seems real, with a specific plan and the means at hand:
  • Call a crisis centre or 911.
  • Stay with the person, or ask someone you trust to stay with the person, until the crisis has passed.
  • Encourage the person to seek professional help.
  • Don't argue with the person ("It's not as bad as you think") or challenge the person ("You're not the type to commit suicide").
  • Tell the person that you don't want him or her to die.  Talk about the situation as openly as possible.

You can take steps to prevent a suicide attempt. Be willing to listen, and help the person find help. Don't be afraid to ask "What is the matter?" or bring up the subject of suicide. There is no evidence that talking about suicide leads to suicidal thinking or suicide.