43 SUICIDE PREVENTION AWARENESS Factors that increase the risk of suicide No single cause can explain or predict suicide.Thoughts of suicide or suicide-related behaviours are a result of a combination of personal, social and cultural factors.The presence of these factors is different from person to person over their lifetime. Factors that may increase the risk of suicide include: • a prior suicide attempt • mental illness like depression • a sense of hopelessness or helplessness o this means that you believe your life or current situation won’t improve • misuse of alcohol or substances • chronic (long-term) physical pain or illness • trauma, for example: o violence o victimization, like bullying o childhood abuse or neglect o suicide by a family member or friend o events that affect multiple generations of your family Other factors that can increase the risk of suicide include: • significant loss, including: o personal (relationships) o social o cultural o financial (job loss) • major life changes or stressors, such as: o unemployment o homelessness o poor physical health or physical illness o the death of a loved one o harassment o discrimination • lack of access to or availability of mental health services • personal identity struggles (sexual, cultural) • lack of support from family, friends or your community • sense of isolation What helps to prevent suicide There are a number of things that can help to guard against suicide, including: • positive mental health and well-being • a sense of hope, purpose, belonging and meaning • social support • healthy self-esteem and confidence in yourself • asking for help if you’re having thoughts of suicide • a sense of belonging and connectedness with your: o family o friends o culture o community Other ways to help protect against risk of suicide include: • a strong identity (personal, sexual, cultural) • access to appropriate mental health services and support • good coping and problems-solving skills, and the ability to adapt to change and new situations • supportive environments where you’re accepted and valued (school, workplace, community) • positive relationships (peers, family, partner) If you’re struggling with your mental health or are worried about someone, you’re not alone.