Did you know approximately 4000 Canadians die by suicide every year? That means approximately 11 people will die by suicide in Canada today, while 210 others will attempt to end their lives by suicide the same day.
As one of the top ten leading causes of death, suicide in Canada is a critical public issue. It is the second-most common cause of death among young people, though men in their 40s and 50s have the highest rate of suicide. While men are 3 times more likely to die by suicide than women, women are 3-4 times more likely to attempt suicide than men.
Suicide is a complex issue that involves a variety of factors. It’s important to recognize that not all people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness, and not all people with a mental illness are suicidal.
While suicide is often linked to depression, each suicide occurs in a uniquely interconnected web of factors, such as individual, environmental, biological, psychological, social, cultural, historical, political and spiritual, including psychological trauma (both developmental and intergenerational). Suicide is NOT about a moral weakness or character flaw.
People who die by suicide, or attempt suicide, feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, helplessness, despair, and/or loneliness. People considering suicide feel as though their pain will never end and that suicide is the only way to stop the suffering.
How can I reduce the risk of suicide?
Though not all suicides can be prevented, some strategies can help reduce the risk. All of these factors are linked to well-being. These strategies include:
- Seeking treatment, care and support for mental health concerns—and building a good relationship with a doctor or other health professionals
- Building social support networks, such as family, friends, a peer support or support group, or connections with a cultural or faith community
- Learning good coping skills to deal with problems, and trusting in coping abilities
When a person receives treatment for a mental illness, it can still take time for thoughts of suicide to become manageable and stop. Good treatment is very important, but it may not immediately eliminate the risk of suicide. It’s important to stay connected with a care team, monitor for thoughts of suicide, and seek extra help if it’s needed. Community based programs that help people manage stress or other daily challenges can also be very helpful.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call our 24-hour crisis line COAST at 1-866-550-5205 (ext. 2).
Local suicide prevention resources: http://www.niagarasuicidepreventioncoalition.com/local-resources–support.html
You can download CMHA’s “Preventing Suicide” brochure here: http://shop.cmha.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Preventing-Suicide-NTNL-brochure-2014-web1.pdf
For more information about understanding suicide and coping with suicide loss, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: https://www.suicideprevention.ca/