Things to Do if You or Someone You Love May be Considering Suicide

A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. People who take their lives don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting.

Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.

  • Talk to your family member about how they are feeling. Asking about suicide won’t cause or increase suicidal thoughts, or cause the person to act on them. It may help them feel less isolated and scared. It may also allow you to see how you can help.
  • Let the person know you are there to listen and encourage them to speak to their health care team, if they have one. If you are concerned that they are feeling more depressed or not acting like themselves, you can contact the team yourself if your family member has given them consent to speak to you.
  • Encourage and help your loved one to limit or stay away from alcohol and other drugs.
  • Create a support network of family and friends who can accompany your family member to their health care appointments, or to other places they find stressful.

How can I make our home as safe as possible?

  • Make sure weapons, alcohol and other drugs are not accessible at home.
  • Store medications safely. Work with your loved one and their care team (including their pharmacist) to make sure they do not have access to large quantities of medications.

What are warning signs for suicide? 

Key warning signs include:

  • Preparing for a suicide attempt—for example, collecting medications, trying to get access to a gun, or researching ways to end their life.
  • Talking about suicide—saying things like, “I’m going to kill myself” or “People will be better off without me”.
  • Writing suicide notes, giving away belongings, or getting their affairs in order.
  • Showing big changes in their personality, routines, thinking or energy level—for example, not sleeping, excessive pacing, hearing voices or experiencing paranoia.
  • Taking part in risky, violent or self-destructive behaviour.

What if my family member shows warning signs for suicide?

  • Take your family member to the nearest hospital emergency department, if you can do so safely. If the person will not go to the hospital or you are unsure if this is the right thing to do, get help from a health care provider as quickly as possible.
    If your loved one is attempting or about to attempt suicide, and you are not at risk, do not leave them alone and call 911.
    Do not challenge or argue with your loved one–try to stay supportive and calm.

Who can I contact for support or information? 

Crisis lines (in York Region):

  • 310-COPE: 1-855-310-2673
  • Krasman Warm Line: 1-888-777-0979
  • Kid’s Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Your family member’s primary care provider or mental health clinician—if the person has given them consent to speak to you.
  • Your own primary care provider—make an appointment to talk about how you’ve been feeling and to get support.

Adapted from: camh.ca