29TH ANNUAL CRIME PREVENTION GUIDE 42 Preventing Suicide Suicide. It’s a difficult topic to bring up. However, when someone talks about suicide or brings up concern for a loved one, it’s important to take action and seek help quickly. Experts in the field suggest that a suicidal person is feeling so much pain that they can see no other option.They feel that they are a burden to others, and in desperation see death as a way to escape their overwhelming pain and anguish. The suicidal state of mind has been described as constricted, filled with a sense of self-hatred, rejection, and hopelessness. What is suicide? Suicide means that someone ends their life on purpose. However, people who die by suicide or attempt suicide may not really want to end their life. Suicide may seem like the only way to deal with difficult feelings or situations. Who does it affect? About 4000 Canadians die by suicide every year. Suicide is the second-most common cause of death among young people, but men in their 40s and 50s have the highest rate of suicide.While women are three to four times more likely to attempt suicide than men, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. Suicide is a complicated issue. People who die by suicide or attempt suicide usually feel overwhelmed, hopeless, helpless, desperate, and alone. In some rare cases, people who experience psychosis (losing touch with reality) may hear voices that tell them to end their life. Many different situations and experiences can lead someone to consider suicide. Known risk factors for suicide include: • A previous suicide attempt • Family history of suicidal behaviour • A serious physical or mental illness • Problems with drugs or alcohol • A major loss, such as the death of a loved one, unemployment, or divorce • Major life changes or transitions, like those experienced by teenagers and seniors • Social isolation or lack of a support network • Family violence • Access to the means of suicide While we often think of suicide in relation to depression, anxiety, and substance use problems, any mental illness may increase the risk of suicide. It’s also important to remember that suicide may not be related to any mental illness. What are the warning signs? Major warning signs of suicide spell IS PATHWARM: I - Ideation: thinking about suicide S - Substance use: problems with drugs or alcohol P- Purposelessness: feeling like there is no purpose in life or reason for living A- Anxiety: feeling intense anxiety or feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope T- Trapped: feeling trapped or feeling like there is no way out of a situation H- Hopelessness or Helplessness: feeling no hope for the future, feeling like things will never get better W-Withdrawal: avoiding family, friends, or activities A- Anger: feeling unreasonable anger R - Recklessness: engaging in risky or harmful activities normally avoided M- Mood change: a significant change in mood How can I reduce the risk of suicide? Though not all suicides can be prevented, some strategies can help reduce the risk.All of these factors are linked to well-being.These strategies include: • Seeking treatment, care and support for mental health concerns—and building a good relationship with a doctor or other health professionals • Building social support networks, such as family, friends, a peer support or support group, or connections with a cultural or faith community • Learning good coping skills to deal with problems, and trusting in coping abilities When a person receives treatment for a mental illness, it can still take time for thoughts of suicide to become manageable and stop. Good treatment is very important, but it may not immediately eliminate the risk of suicide. It’s important to stay connected with a care team, monitor for thoughts of suicide, and seek extra help if it’s needed. Community-based programs that help people manage stress or other daily challenges can also be very helpful. continued