This time of year, depression soars in Canada. People who have never felt it before start to slide down into gloominess and they become dissatisfied with life. A new phenomenon has started happening as people are starting to think of suicide as a viable option to their problems which has caused more attempted suicides.
When I started providing therapy 10 years ago, I might have had one suicidal client at a time and they were asking how to prevent it from happening. Now, it is a conversation I have every day at my office. The conversation has changed from “help me stop myself” to “it’s my right to kill myself”. This has come from movies such as Me Before You and other media influences who have romanced suicide as a good solution to your problem. The worst part of my job is when people come to me too late and I have to sit across from a parent who has lost their child to suicide. I can assure you, suicide makes everything worse.
I would guess that all of you who are reading this have been touched in someway by suicide. Either you have a friend or family member who has been suicidal or committed suicide or you have had thoughts about it. Therefore, its time for us to get real about suicide. Talking about it will not make it happen. Talking about it will help people feel safe enough to come forward and get the help they need. It will also get the message out that suicide is not an option.
What can you do?
Listen: When someone is talking about struggles in their life take a few extra minutes to listen to them. Be open minded and non-judgemental as you help them sort through their thoughts. Often taking a few minutes to talk with someone about their day will help regulate their emotions. People who are considering suicide often report they feel unloved or not listened to. Take a moment for your loved ones today and let them know you care.
Offer hope: Let them know that whatever they are going through will get better. Sometimes people question this because they wonder if the situation will. To check this feeling think back to a time in your life when things seemed hopeless but you were able overcome it. Things will get better, it just might require help to make it happen. Assure them that you are there to help them through it.
Take it seriously: If they indicate that they want their life to be over or ended don’t discount it. I have had times when I have explained to a parent that their child is suicidal and they have told me “that is just something teens say. They would never act on it”. They were wrong. If someone is threatening self-harm that is a red flag and it should always be taken seriously. Get them to a therapist or a hospital right away. The mental healthcare professional can do an assessment and determine the risk level. Don’t take that responsibility on yourself.
If you are the one struggling with suicidal thoughts, don’t suffer alone. There is help available. There are helplines available and the one in Kitchener-Waterloo is HERE247. And we here at HELPPS are here for you.
Let's end suicide together.