Let’s talk about suicide prevention
The news of Robin Williams’ death has hit many people hard.
In the aftermath of what the media are reporting as a probable suicide, people have many questions about how suicide can be prevented.
Where can you get help in a crisis?
If you need help:
- Visit your local emergency department or call 911
- Contact a nurse at Telehealth Ontario by dialing 1-866-797-0000
- Call the Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868
- Call the Good2Talk support line at 1-866-925-5454 (for post-secondary students in Ontario aged 17-25)
>> See more emergency crisis and distress centres
If you’re in crisis, the CAMH Emergency Department is open 24/7.
Treatment and support are available.
>> Ontario Mental Health Helpline (open 24/7 for treatment anywhere in Ontario)
The myth that talking about suicide is dangerous—that raising the issue with a troubled person could give them the idea of suicide—persists. Let’s debunk it right now.
If you think someone you care about is thinking about suicide—ask them.
What are the warning signs?
People who are feeling suicidal may:
- Show a sudden change in mood or behaviour
- Show a sense of hopelessness and helplessness
- Express the wish to die or end their life
- Increase substance use
- Withdraw from people and activities that they previously enjoyed
- Experience changes in sleeping patterns
- Have a decreased appetite
- Give away prized possessions or make preparations for their death (for example, creating a will)
How to help
Here are some things that people can do if they are concerned that someone they care about may be contemplating suicide:
- Listen to the person. Take them seriously. Don’t judge or minimize their feelings. Be positive and hopeful, and remember that suicide can be prevented.
- Ask them if they are suicidal. Don’t be afraid that you will put the idea in their head. It may be a relief for them to talk about it.
- Ask if they have a plan. Depending on their answer you may want to limit their access to lethal means, such as medication, knives or firearms.
- Ask them to rate their suicidal feelings on a scale of 1 to 10. Then regularly ask them to tell you where they are on the scale, so you can assess if things are getting worse.
- Let them know help is available and that the cause of their suicidal thoughts can be successfully treated.
- Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.
- Encourage them to seek help immediately from a doctor or mental health provider, and offer to help with this if they would like.
- Make a safety plan with them. Who will they call if their feelings get stronger? Who can stay with them to keep them safe? Make a list of phone numbers of people and services they can call if they feel unsafe. Avoid leaving the person alone if he or she is in crisis.
- Seek support for yourself—it is important that you don’t carry this burden alone