Suicide is the act of taking one's own life on purpose.
For some, suicidal thoughts are situational and short-lived. For others, suicidal thoughts are more persistent and chronic. In either case, it is important that individuals with suicidal thoughts get help. Often, those with suicidal thoughts have a mental health illness, and treatment from a health professional may help eliminate these thoughts. Talking about suicide with a friend or loved one you think may be struggling with suicidal thoughts does not result in suicide, and may in fact help save that person’s life.
What are the warning signs that someone is having suicidal thoughts?
While there is not a single warning sign that will identify someone who may attempt suicide, some warning signs may include:
- Preoccupation with death
- Expressing a wish to be dead
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Writing goodbye notes/saying goodbye to loved ones
- Making preparations for death (i.e. creating wills, closing accounts, giving away treasured items)
- Expressions of hopelessness
- Increased/erratic drug or alcohol use
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Acquiring means to end one’s life (i.e. buying a gun)
Who might be at a higher risk of suicide?
Suicidal thoughts can affect people from all walks of life. It is very difficult to predict which people will attempt suicide, but some factors that might increase risk include:
- Past history of a suicide attempt
- Family history of suicide
- Mental illness (e.g. depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis)
- Chronic physical illness/pain
- Alcohol/drug use
- Relationship changes (e.g. job loss, divorce) and social isolation
- High levels of impulsiveness
- Access to means (e.g. guns)
- Clear plan for suicide
What should I do to get help?
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the Fraser Health Crisis Line at 604-951-8855 or 1-877-820-7444, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you or someone you know is in immediate risk of suicide, call 911.
Remember to maintain your support if the person is getting help for a mental illness. In the early stages of treatment, some people start to feel physically well enough to carry out a plan before they start to feel better emotionally. This is a time when professionals and loved ones should carefully monitor for warning signs.
For more information and other resources that may be of help please see below: