Whether you know someone who is having a hard time, someone who has recently attempted suicide and survived, or someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, there are lots you can do to help.
By Showing Up And Reaching Out, You’re Taking A Big Step Towards Supporting Your Loved One.
It can be helpful to gain a basic understanding of suicide and suicide prevention, to break down any stigma, and dissolve any myths about suicide you may hold as beliefs.
Suicide Is Complex And Multi-Faceted.
“Suicide is an attempt to solve a problem of intense emotional pain with impaired problem-solving skills.” Judith Springer, 2011
Read our guide on Understanding Suicide Prevention: A Handbook for Family Members and Caregivers here
Check out some FAQ’s about suicide and suicide prevention here
Supporting Someone Who Is Struggling Or Who Has Attempted
Listen To The Person
Be attentive and reach out to the person. Take the person seriously and listen carefully. Remain objective and non-judgmental. Assure the person that something can be done. Never promise to keep it a secret. Their life is too important.
Be aware of the risk factors and warning signs. Ask the person directly about any intentions of suicide. Discuss suicide openly and honestly.
Offer support and encourage hope. Focus on the person’s strengths. Agree to go get help with them. Don’t take on their problems; try to help connect them with someone who can support them. Take all threats seriously. Link the person you are supporting to resources. You can check out our Youth Resources and Adults / All Ages Resources pages.
Never Do It Alone
Share responsibility by involving family, close friends, a family doctor, clergy, or other support services. Check-in by phone, text, or e-mail. Attend an education or support session for family members or caregivers. Information about some in the region here.
You can read our page on what to do if you think someone you know is at risk for suicide.
You can read about how you can support someone after their suicide attempt.
Responding to Distress Online
Some people may use social media to address their thoughts of suicide, whether it is to seek help and support, or to talk about their distress. It is important to recognize that all forms of help seeking are valid and should be taken seriously.
So, if you see content on social media that indicates someone may be having thoughts of suicide, what should you do?
The Association Québécoise de prevention du suicide has created a fantastic guide titled “Taking action on social media to prevent suicide”, that you can view here.
The guide suggests the following tips for responding to distress online. Remember that these are general suggestions, and may not apply in every situation.
- Let the person know that you’re there for them.
- Try to chat with them to learn more about what they are posting. Typically, it is best to reach out through a private message.
- Listen with openness and without judgement.
- Listen to what they have to say, and try to understand the situation. Remember though, to also stay within your own limits for what you can handle.
- Encourage the person to ask for help.
- You can let the person know that you’re concerned about them and want to offer ways to get help. Try to provide information for suicide prevention services that are open 24/7.
- Report alarming content.
- Whether you know the person or not, it is a good idea to report alarming content to the platform involved.
- Contact emergency services as needed.
- If you think the person is in immediate danger, call 911, even if you don’t know where the person lives. Try to stay connected with the person until emergency services can contact them.
- Follow-up with the person.
- Ask the person if they want to stay in touch with you. Remind them that they’re not alone, and that there are people they can talk to.
- Find support for yourself.
- Helping someone through a crisis can be quite a challenge. It is important to get support, and to take time to self-care after providing assistance.
You can help others by being informed about how to safely talk about suicide. For more information on training to prepare yourself to have conversations around suicide, check out the SafeTALK and/or ASIST training through LivingWorks.
You can also check out the following pages on our website for more information: