It's a dark, scary and confusing word, one that people have not always openly talked about. A word that is simply tragic.
In Canada, with a population of 32,245,200 (stats from 2009) there were 3890 reported suicides, and 5-25% more in unreported suicides.
1.6 million people, or 5% of the population experience thoughts of suicide.
What leads someone to wanting their life to end? Each individual is different in their reasoning.
- Feeling like there is a lack of people who care (friends, family, etc)
- Feelings of not being good enough
- Traumatic experience
- Pain associated with a disease
- Mental illness such as depression, anxiety, schizoprenia, bi-polar, etc
Did you know what the term "Johnny committed suicide last night" is a politically incorrect term? Years ago, before the Criminal Code of Canada removed it, a person could be charged for a suicide attempt, should they live - but in 1972, this law was removed from the Criminal Code, thus making the term "committed suicide" incorrect. "Taking their life" is one of the more appropriate terms when speaking of someone's suicide.
But how do you know when someone is experiencing thoughts of suicide? Courtesy of the LivingWorks guide, there are signs to watch for:
* Giving away possessions
* Withdrawl from family, friends, school, work
* Loss of interest in hobbies
* Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
* Reckless behavior
* Extreme behavior changes
* "I won't be needing these things anymore"
* "I can't do anything right"
* "I just can't keep my thoughts straight anymore"
* "I just can't take it any more"
* "I wish I were dead"
* "Everyone will be better off without me"
* "All of my problems will end soon"
* "No one can do anything to help me now"
* "Now I now what they were going through"
* Lack of interest in appearance
* Change/loss in sex interest
* Disturbed sleep
* Change/loss of appetite, weight
* Physical health complaints
How do we on the phone lines, hear the telltale signs that someone is exeperiencing thoughts of suicide? Every single one of our volunteers have gone through the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop (ASIST) which teaches the art of understanding, assisting and connecting to the person calling. We are trained in suicide prevention and will do everything we can to help the caller find their reasons for living; feelings, hopes, beliefes, values, attitudes or skills, family, friends, pets, organizations and activities could all be said reasons.
As we've learned from society, and the reporting of suicides, is that it's not one specific age group or demographic that wants to end their life - it can be anyone - your neighbour, your family member, your teacher, your co-worker. It can be someone as young as 9 years old, and it can be someone in their 90's.
How can you help someone who is experiencing suicide ideations? Listen. If the person is in immediate danger of harming themselves, get emergency assistance immediately!! If the person is willing to talk to someone about their feelings, we are here, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, NO MATTER WHAT.
Remember, you are not alone. There is always someone caring & supportive on our lines, ready to listen.