Today on World Suicide Prevention Day, we show our support for suicide prevention, to remember lost loved ones and to embrace survivors of suicide.
Did you know that asking a person "Are you thinking about suicide?" isn't going to put the idea in their mind or encourage them to do it, but is instead the first step in prevention? It can encourage discussion and reduce anxiety.
Suicide prevention is effective when everyone is involved. Yet, stigma remains one of the greatest barriers to prevention.
Reach out! We can create a safe space through open, non-judgemental conversation and gentle questioning for our loved ones to share and express emotions. Here are some suggestions for how to have real conversations with your friends and to support them if they're struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Have you noticed a significant change in your friend's behaviour? This could be a warning sign that they're not doing well. Changes could be:
Not texting or calling as much
Drinking more than usual
Appearing tired and distant
Being more irritable or angry
Choose a comfortable setting
Mention what you've noticed:
"I haven't hear from you much these days. Is everything okay?" Don't blame or shame your friend.
Ask questions and listen to what they're saying.
"The other day you said your life sucks…what's that like for you?" Avoid instantly problem-solving.
Don't make it seem like they're overreacting, and don't change the subject.
Back them up and acknowledge their feelings: "That sounds really hard."
Ask "Are you thinking about suicide?" If they say yes, don't panic.
Let them know you're there for them. "Thanks for telling me. That's really hard to do. Can you tell me more about it? I'm here for you."
Who else have they told? Encourage them to reach out to others.
Call the BC crisis line together. This service is available 24 hours a day by phone: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). You can also get support on online chat and youth chat. Online chat is available from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. For more information, visit Crisis Centre BC website.
After this conversation, check in with your friend often.
If your friend has imminent plans to die, contact 9-1-1 and ensure they're not left alone.
Asking someone about suicide, listening to their response, and helping them see the hope in their lives is an extremely effective form of suicide prevention.