Suicide Risk

The following information was provided by Suicide Attempt Follow-up Education & Research Program (SAFER). We gratefully acknowledge their contribution to this initiative and their permission to use this material. It is very important to take all suicide thoughts and attempts seriously

It is very important to take all suicide thoughts and attempts seriously

If someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) available 24/7/365 throughout BC. Skilled volunteers will be able to assist.

Danger Signs:

  • Direct or indirect statements about death or suicide
  • History of previous suicide attempts
  • Recent traumatic loss (eg. death of a loved one)
  • Any sudden change in behaviour or mood (eg. from being talkative and outgoing to becoming withdrawn)
  • Depression (eg. crying, sleep and appetite disturbances, hopelessness)
  • Finalizing affairs (eg. giving away possessions, making a will or saying good-byes)
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol.

A person may be feeling confused, overwhelmed and believe that suicide is the only way to solve a problem. Others who have experienced emotional difficulties have been helped by reaching out to someone they trust or by talking to an experienced professional.

More Danger Signs

What a person might be saying:

  • “Nothing goes right for me”
  • “Whatever, nothing matters anyway”
  • “I just can’t take it anymore”
  • “It’ll all be over soon”
  • “I wish I was dead”

What you see:

  • Dropping out of hobbies, sports, school or job.
  • Talking about death or cult figures who died by suicide
  • Giving away possessions and saying goodbyes
  • Researching methods to complete suicide online
  • Sadness/depressed mood
  • Lack of interest or energy
  • Dramatic changes in behaviour, actions, or attitude
  • Being unusually quiet, aggressive or angry
  • Taking many severe risks (driving recklessly, unsafe sex)
  • Using alcohol or drugs excessively

How to help

  1. Be aware of the warning signs of suicide and take them seriously.
  2. Discussion is the first step in giving help.
    • If you suspect someone is suicidal, ASK.
    • Ask the question: Has it been so bad that you’ve thought of killing yourself?
    • Let them know that you care about them and want to help.
    • LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. Ask questions about their feelings and let them do the talking.
    • Discuss feelings openly and frankly.
    • Show concern and understanding.
    • Be objective and non-judgemental. Try not to judge or argue, just understand.
    • Help the person to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses.
  3. Get involved in efforts to reach out for help.
    • Share responsibility by encouraging involvement of family and close friends.
    • Continue to offer support and stay in contact with the person. Get support for yourself too.
    • If you think they might harm themselves right away, don’t leave them alone. Contact someone for assistance.
    • Ask for help, even if they’ve asked you not to tell anyone. Don’t promise to keep secrets or keep it confidential.

Suicide Facts:

Many people think about suicide at some point in their lives. You possibly have a friend or relative who has thought about suicide. You, too, may have occasional feelings of hopelessness. Suicide crosses all social, economic and cultural boundaries. A significant percentage of people who complete suicide appeared to be functioning well prior to their death.

FACT:Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young men aged 15-24 in B.C.
FACT:Those within the first five years of developing psychosis are at a very elevated risk for both suicide attempts and ending their own lives.
FACT:Women have a lower rate of death by suicide, but current trends show their attempts are becoming more lethal.
FACT:Eight out of ten people who kill themselves give definite clues of suicidal feelings.
FACT:Suicidal people even if they seem to have it all, may not feel okay about themselves. They feel they can’t meet their own expectations.
FACT:Most suicidal people want to end their pain and see death as the only way out. A way to solve their major problems
FACT:Talking with someone who is suicidal about it does not increase their risk. He or she will more likely feel a sense of relief that finally, someone is allowing them an opportunity to talk and perhaps start resolving their situation
FACT:Suicidal people feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless and usually require professional support.