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Preventing Suicide

Description of Suicide

Suicide is the voluntary act of taking one’s own life.

Suicidal thoughts are the warning bells that precede suicide. They indicate that an intense suffering has become too much to handle.

Every day in Quebec, approximately 3 people take their own lives and 8 people are hospitalised after attempting suicide.

Suicide is never an option; there are always solutions. Everyone can help prevent suicide.

Causes of Suicide

Suicide is never the result of a single factor or event.

It is the accumulation and interaction of several factors at a particular moment of a person’s life that may lead to distress, despair and suicidal thoughts. In such a predicament, the person may then feel death is a solution to their despair.

Factors that come into play are different for each person. These factors can be related to:

  • A person’s predispositions (for instance: psychological problems, experience with violent situations)
  • Their social environment
  • Their family situation
  • Life experiences (for instance: failure, heartbreak, instances of humiliation or rejection)

People at Risk

Some people can start to think of committing suicide due to certain factors that render them vulnerable. Such people may include:

  • People with a mental problem, depression in particular
  • People with a physical health problem
  • People addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling
  • People experiencing family problems
  • People experiencing conflicts in their relationships with others
  • People with financial problems, low income or that are jobless
  • People living alone
  • People that are responsible for a single parent family

Recognising the Signs

You must be vigilant. People thinking of suicide generally give signs of distress or clues of their intentions that can alert relatives, friends or parents.

These signs come in the shape of words, conduct, emotions or cognitive clues.

Examples of Words Employed

A person with suicidal thoughts may use certain words that are telling:

  • “I want to put an end to all this”
  • “I want to kill myself”
  • “You’ll be much better off without me”
  • “I am useless”
  • “I have failed at everything in life”
  • “I’ll be better off dead”
  • “Life is not worth living”

Examples of Conduct

Certain conduct can indicate that a person has intention of committing suicide. For example, they may do the following:

  • Isolate themselves and prefer to be alone
  • Put their affairs in order (such as making sure their life insurance papers are up to date, making sure they will not leave anything that might harm the people around them)
  • Show heightened interest in weapons and medicines
  • Give away personal affects
  • Consume alcohol, drugs or medication in an unusual way
  • Be agitated, or on the contrary, lack energy
  • Write a will or goodbye letter
  • Have trouble sleeping or eating
  • Neglect their appearance and hygiene

Examples of Emotional and Cognitive Clues

Certain emotions and changes in mental function can be observed in someone with suicidal thoughts. This person may appear:

  • Sad
  • Discouraged
  • Aggressive
  • Irritable, meaning they become angry easily
  • Bored, as though unable to experience pleasure

The person may also:

  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Speak in a confused and incoherent manner
  • Be unmotivated
  • Have loss of memory
  • Be indecisive

You must be careful if the person’s mood suddenly improves. Such change may be misleading as it may mean that the person has planned their suicide. They are not actually doing better, but in their view, they believe that their suffering will soon end, or that they will stop making others suffer.

Treatment

Having suicidal thoughts is not an illness, but rather a symptom indicating that something is not going well. Suicidal thoughts are often linked to psychological problems, particularly depression and dependence problems.

There are treatments available for these problems.

Treatment for Depression

Depression affects about ¾ of people who commit suicide. Effective treatments to counter depression are available. The earlier the people affected seek assistance, the higher the chances for these treatments to work. To learn more, see the Information on Depression Ce lien ouvre une nouvelle fenêtre. page.

Treatment for Dependence

Behavioural dependence on alcohol, drugs and gambling favour the emergence of suicidal thoughts. Resources specialised in the field of dependence offer proven treatments. These treatments help people to reduce and to control their conduct of dependency. To learn more, see the Information on Dependence page.

What To Do

Should you or a loved one be in distress, do not remain alone. Suicide is never a solution. You must talk about it in order to prevent it. Confiding in someone is the best way to help yourself or a loved one.

Here a few advice:

If You Harbour Suicidal Thoughts

Should you harbour suicidal thoughts, it means your suffering is taking the better of you. It is a warning bell. You must take it seriously.

You may begin by changing certain habits in your life. Making changes helps eliminate things that increase and uphold your suicidal thoughts.

Habits To Take

Having good lifestyle habits allows you to feel better and thereby be better equipped to handle your hardships. Here are a few good habits to take:

  • Go to bed at a reasonable time
  • Take time to eat well
  • Exercise every day
  • Reduce consumption of alcohol and drugs
  • Gamble less

To learn more about good habits to take, visit the website on healthy lifestyle (Available in French only) This link open a new window..

When to Seek Medical Help

Do not wait until you are unable to conduct your regular activities before seeking medical help. See a health professional as soon as possible:

  • If you are suffering to a degree that your emotions prevent you from functioning normally
  • If you have difficulty meeting your work or family responsibilities
  • If you only see the dark side of life and are consumed by despair
  • If you have suicidal thoughts

A health professional will assess whether you are suffering from depression or another health problem. They will propose a treatment plan adapted to your needs.

To know which resources are at your disposal, see Assistance and Resources.

In the Event of a Suicidal Crisis

Call 1 866 277 3553. There are people to help and give you support. Do not stay alone. You are not alone to fight. There is always hope.

A Survivor’s Testimony

“For one year, I disconnected, I stopped living. I was no longer present, I thought increasingly of death, until the moment I sought medical assistance and received help. From this moment on, I started to come out of the horrible nightmare that was consuming my entire life. The experience was physically draining and I needed several weeks of convalescence to regain strength, even once the psychological symptoms had gone. Today, I have found myself, my partner, my kids and my work again.”

– Karine, 33 years old

If You Wish To Help a Loved One

Anyone may find themselves in a situation in which they must act to prevent the suicide of a friend, parent or colleague. If you wish to help a loved one, follow the Advice For Helping a Suicidal Person.

Should you feel incapable of acting, make sure that someone else does. Call 1 866 277 3553 to receive support and advice.

Advice For Helping a Suicidal Person

  • Listen to the person and show them that you understand to what degree they are in distress. Keep in mind that there is always a part of a suicidal person that wants to live, up to the very last minute. Your help can strengthen this will to live
  • Take the person seriously. Avoid making fun of the person, or lecturing and provoking them
  • See if the person is thinking about committing suicide. If so, try to understand how, where and when they plan it. The more detailed the plan, the faster you must act
  • Tell them that you are worried about them
  • Encourage the person to seek help and accompany them as needed. Help them find solutions, but avoid doing everything in their place
  • Respect your limits. Keep in mind that you are not responsible for the acts of a suicidal person
  • Don’t act alone. Seek information and support from a qualified professional. You don’t have to think that what the person you are helping confided is a secret. Not talking about it might limit possible interventions and make you carry responsibility for the suicidal person alone. See the Assistance and Resources section to find professionals that can help you
  • In order to respect the person suffering, be discreet in your approach to get help.  For instance, avoid talking about what the person is going through loudly in public

In Case of an Emergency

Should you fear for your safety or for that of a loved one, contact emergency services by dialing 9-1-1.

Help and Resources

Assistance is available at all times for:

  • People with suicidal thoughts
  • Those close to someone suicidal
  • People in mourning as a result of someone having committed suicide

Regardless of which situation you find yourself, here is a list of resources from where you can receive information or immediate assistance.

List of Resources 

1 866 277 3553

365 days a year, 24/7, you can call 1 866 277 3553 to speak to someone. Do not hesitate, qualified help is always available to assist and answer your questions. They are available to talk at all times. 

Suicide Prevention Centre

You can receive help from your local suicide prevention centre. To find contact information, see the List of Suicide Prevention Centres (Available in French only) This link open a new window. on the Association québécoise de prévention du suicide’s website.

Other Resources

Other listening and support resources are also available:

Last update: January 24, 2014 10:53 AM

The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 8-1-1 or see a health professional.

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