A woman looks out the window on what appears to be a gloomy day

September is Suicide Prevention Month

By Kevin Strachan

Posted on Thursday September 3, 2020

September is World Suicide Prevention Month. During the month of September, people in over 50 countries connect to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities.

Every year, 160 million people worldwide contemplate suicide and, tragically, 800,000 of them die by suicide. This means that more than 159 million people survive suicidal crises every year. There is no reason that anyone has to die by suicide and, if we all do our part, we can prevent those deaths that do happen and the devastating impact that they have.

The power of coming together and reaching out to each other is immeasurable... It can save lives.

We can learn a lot from people impacted by suicide. Many people who survive suicidal thinking or behaviours describe the intense pain, filled with hopelessness and despair. They also talk about wanting the pain to end, not necessarily to die. That pain is often caused by complex and unique circumstances that could include a treatable mental illness, stressful life event, and/or difficulties with coping skills. Interventions exist that can help with each of those challenges and people need to be aware that things can change.

People often fear intervening. Taking a moment to reach out to someone – a close family member, a friend, or even a stranger – can change the course of their life. Because talking about suicide is difficult, listening with a non-judgmental ear can help lessen feelings of isolation and remind the person that others care about them.

The hopelessness and despair that lead to thoughts of suicide can be incredibly isolating. While people may think about suicide for a long time, the urge to act on those thoughts fluctuates in terms of duration and intensity. Compassion and empathy can help turn things around. A genuine conversation can make all the difference.

We should not assume that everyone who is in distress is suicidal (they’re not!). If you are worried about someone, it’s best to start by asking general questions about their wellbeing. Bringing up the conversation can be difficult - try starting with something like: “I know you’ve been going through a lot lately. I want you to know I’m concerned about you.”

If the response is worrisome, you can ask, “Are you thinking about suicide?” This question must be asked clearly and directly. It is a myth that asking or talking about suicide will put the idea in someone’s head.

When someone is struggling...

• check in with them regularly; see how they are doing
• listen supportively to what they have to say
• remember that you don’t have to have all the answers
• know and introduce the resources of their area, if they need additional support
• be prepared to assist them in finding information

During the month of September, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention invites you to reach out and connect with someone. Your efforts will shine a light on this important issue, sending a message to those who are despairing, those who are grieving, and those who are supporting someone who is struggling. Working together, a Canada without suicide is possible.

For more information on suicide prevention, or to register for an upcoming Mental Fitness and Suicide Prevention course, contact the health promotion office at local 4685, or email healthpromotionpetawawa@cfmws.com. If you are having thoughts of suicide and would like to talk to someone, please call any of the following:

Garrison Mental Health Team – 613-687-5511 ext. 4600
MFRC Mental Health Team – 613-687-2104 ext. 224
CFMAP – 1-800-268-7708
Family Information Line – 1-800-866-4546
Crisis Line – 1-866-996-0991

“World Suicide Prevention Toolkit.” Retrieved September 7, 2020 from the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention, https://suicideprevention.ca/WSPD.