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Understanding Suicide

Understanding Suicide

Suicide is a complex issue involving numerous factors and should not be attributed to any one single cause.  Not all people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness and not all people with a mental illness attempt to end their lives by suicide.

People who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings are suffering with tremendous emotional pain. People who have died by suicide typically had overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness. Suicide is not about a moral weakness or a character flaw. People considering suicide feel as though their pain will never end and that suicide is the only way to stop the suffering.

Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end his/her life. Factors such as loss, addictions, childhood trauma or other forms of trauma, depression, serious physical illness, and major life changes can make some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. It is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily the nature of the loss or stressor that is as important as the individual’s experience of these things feeling unbearable.

Prevention, Intervention and Postvention (PIP) are the three areas of focus when working in the area of suicide. They can be understood as the before, during and after experiences of thoughts of suicide, attempts or death. Everyone has a role and contribution to preventing suicide in one or more of these areas. You don’t have to be an expert. You do need to know how to take care of yourself and help another person get to safety if the need arises.

  • Prevention is the umbrella in working toward reducing deaths by suicide; increasing awareness, eliminating stigma, knowing what to do in the event that you or someone you know experiences thoughts or behaviours associated with suicide. It’s having the skills, awareness, before someone is in crisis.  In preventing suicide, intervention and postvention are components toward the goal of reducing suicides.
  • Intervention includes coping and intervening in the event that you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thinking or behaviours.
  • Postvention includes the skills and strategies for taking care of yourself or helping another person heal after the experience of suicide thoughts, attempts or death.

 

Reference Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, http://suicideprevention.ca