World Suicide Prevention Day

By Kevin Strachan

Posted on Thursday September 9, 2021


September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). It is a chance for everyone to join together 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 suicide related crises every year. There is no reason that anyone has to die by suicide and, if we all do our part, we can prevent the deaths that do happen and the devastating impact that they have.

As captured in this year’s WSPD theme, “Creating Hope Through Action”, the aim is to work together to create a movement of preventative action, to recognize the impact of suicide, and ultimately, to strive to prevent it. At times, the work of suicide prevention can feel overwhelming, but even small actions can make a huge difference. The power of coming together and reaching out to each other is immeasurable.

And... 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, hopelessness and despair. They also talk about wanting the pain to end, and not necessarily wanting 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.

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. Compassion and empathy can help turn things around. A genuine conversation can make all the difference.

When having a conversation with someone that is in distress, it should never be assumed everyone who is in distress is having suicidal-related thoughts or exhibiting associated behaviours (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, so 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 must ask clearly and directly, “Are you thinking about suicide?”. It is a myth that asking or talking about suicide will put the idea in someone’s head.

If someone is having thoughts of suicide...
• Listen supportively to what they have to say - you don’t have to have all the answers.
• Check in with them regularly to see how they are doing.
• Know and introduce them to resources (see resources in blue highlighted box).
• If they need additional support, be prepared to assist them (this may mean calling 911 if you are unable to offer assistance).

If you are interested in learning more about how to talk to someone that is thinking about suicide and getting them the help that they need, the Strengthening the Forces Health Promotion program offers a great course, Mental Fitness & Suicide Awareness, that will provide you with the skills and the tools to help you help others. There are also a number of courses available to help strengthen your own personal mental resilience (Stress Take Charge, Managing Angry Moments, and Mental Fitness and Suicide Awareness). Visit for the upcoming course schedule.

Information retrieved from the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, 2021

If you yourself are struggling with your mental health, there are many resources available.
Reach out and connect. You are not alone.

• Garrison Mental Health - 613-687-5511 ext. 4600
• Military Family Resource Centre - 613-687-2104 ext. 224
• Padres - local 5434, 5611 after hours
• Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program - 1-800-268-7708
• Family Information Line - 1-800-866-4546
• Kids Help Phone - 1-800-668-6868
• Crisis Line - 1-866-996-0991
• Sexual Misconduct Response Centre - 1-844-750-1648