In 2002 the World Health Organization reported that suicide was the leading cause of violent death around the world; suggesting more casualties as a result of suicide, than homicide or war (Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, 2009). In Canada, approximately 10 people succeed in committing suicide every day (CASP, 2009). Suicide is something that has affected most of us in one way or another. There is no one simple cause to suicide; rather it is a complex phenomenon that encompasses many factors including individual biology, psychological factors and social factors. So, how do you recognize when someone you love is contemplating suicide? What do you do if you learn that they are having suicidal thoughts?
Some typical warning signs of suicidal thoughts and behaviours include, however are not limited to frequently communicating thoughts about hopelessness or helplessness; preparing for death, such as writing a will or giving away prize possessions; making suicidal statements, such as “I want to kill myself” or “people would be better off if I just wasn’t around;” having a plan of how they would carry out the suicide; and having access to objects needed to carry out that plan. Concerns would be further exacerbated if the person is isolated, with few social supports; the person is living with pre-existing mental health symptoms; has experienced some recent changes in his/her life; or is living in a situation where there are ongoing stressors.
If you suspect someone you love of having thoughts of suicide the most important thing you can do is talk to them. Ask them about how they are feeling and support them without judgement. It is reasonable to directly ask them if they are having thoughts of suicide and if they have a plan. You or your loved one should not deal with this issue alone, as there are supports in the Elgin Community. You can speak with your doctor or a community mental health professional.
Physicians at the Central Community Health Centre are currently accepting new clients if they are without a family physician and there are two Social Workers at the Centre that can assist registered clients with their mental health needs. You can receive 24 hour support and advice by contacting Crisis Services at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Elgin Branch at 519-631-2180.
Kate R. RSW MSW BSW
Central Community Health Centre