57 SUICIDE PREVENTION AWARENESS How to talk to someone considering suicide Individually, we can create a safe space through open, non-judgmental conversation and gentle questioning for people to share and express emotions. We can also check-in regularly with them to have a conversation and build strong social connections. If someone you know is exhibiting warning signs, have an open, non-judgmental conversation with them. You can start the conversation by mentioning your concerns, “I haven’t heard from you much these days. Is everything okay?” Keep the conversation going by asking questions and listen to what they’re saying. You don’t have to offer solutions. If you’re still worried about them, ask directly: “Are you thinking about suicide?” If they say yes, don’t panic. Let them know you’re there for them and help them access mental health supports, including by calling the crisis line at 1-833-456-4566. Being able to recognize the warning signs of suicide requires a deep shift in how we’ve been taught to interact with people. Rarely do we learn to have the ability to be present enough with those around us, those that we see every day, to recognize a change in behaviour. We don’t often learn how to talk about our emotions, let alone the emotions of others, so starting a conversation with someone we’re worried about can be very difficult. Finally, connecting that person to help and supporting them through their journey, if you chose to do so, can be exhausting and scary. But this can be lifesaving and life-changing. Ambivalence People who are considering suicide want to die to end their pain, but the fact is that they are still alive: there is another part of them that wants desperately to live – this duality is ‘ambivalence’ (Bergmans et al., 2017). When intervening with someone, focus on the part of them that wants to live:What do they have to live for? How are they coping? How have they weathered the storm up until now? Discussing these questions with the person in crisis helps them move past their state of crisis, at which point, they can be connected to further supports and a safety plan can be created. Safety planning is best done after a point of crisis, once everyone is calm again. Safety planning helps support and guide someone to help avoid a state of intense suicidal crisis reoccurring. Best practices Specialized supports Specialized supports are activities that directly assist a person considering suicide. They can be provided by a variety of caregivers including professionals, skilled volunteers, and trained peers and in a variety of settings such as emergency departments, inpatient and outpatient care, and community agencies. Support groups, and self-help practices also play roles. Coordinated systems and access to services is key. Here are some examples of specialized supports: Suicide crisis lines Suicide crisis lines provide free, 24/7 access to speak with a trained responder. Responders provide a listening ear in a moment of crisis. This alone can be lifesaving: a person in suicidal crisis cannot stay in that heightened state forever. Offering them the space to talk about what they’re experiencing is often enough to keep them safe in the moment. Responders can also begin the safety planning process with them and can connect them with other community supports (Centre for Suicide Prevention, 2018). Further, responders assess immediate suicide risk and send emergency services when needed. What is intervention? (continued) Canada Suicide Prevention Service 1-833-456-4566 Hope for Wellness 1-855-242-3310 Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868