Suicide is the act of intentionally taking one’s life. Although there are certain similarities between suicide and euthanasia or assisted suicide, the issues and ethical considerations are very different and will not be discussed here.
In Québec, there are an average of four suicides and eighty attempted suicides every day among people aged fifteen and over.
Despite the scale of the problem, suicide is a topic that remains difficult to broach and is subject to numerous misconceptions. Everyone can help prevent suicide.
- How to recognize the warnings signals
- What causes it?
- What have others gone through?
- What can be done?
Suicidal intentions don’t just develop out of the blue. People who are thinking of committing suicide usually show warning signals that can alert family and friends to their distress and their plans. Here are some examples of these signals. It’s important to pay attention to them.
- Direct messages
- "I want to make an end of it."
- "I’m going to kill myself."
- Indirect messages
- "You’d be better off without me.”
- "I’m useless."
- "My life is a failure."
- "I’d be better off dead."
- "Life is no longer worth living."
Attitudes and behaviors
- Sadness, discouragement, aggressiveness
- Isolation, withdrawal
- Marked changes in behavior, irritability, mood swings
- Putting personal affairs in order
- Boredom, indecisiveness, loss of enjoyment
- Marked interest in weapons, drugs
- Giving personal things away
- Unusual consumption of alcohol, drugs, or medication
- Hyperactivity, or inversely, loss of energy
- Drawing up a will or letter of farewell
- Sleep or appetite disorders
- Loss of self-esteem
- Neglect of appearance and personal hygiene
Suicide is not motivated by informed choice but rather by the loss of all hope for the future, leading the individual to see death as the only solution to despair.
Mental illness (almost three quarters of people who commit suicide suffer from depression), addiction, especially gambling addiction (debt, loss of a spouse or a job, etc.), and situations caused by drug or alcohol abuse (debt, loss of a spouse or a job, etc.) are the most common conditions associated with suicide.
“For a year, I tuned out and just stopped living. It was as if I wasn’t there, and I started thinking more and more about death until I finally sought professional help. From that moment on, I started to emerge from the nightmare that had taken over my life. The experience was physically exhausting, and it took many weeks of convalescence to physically recuperate once the psychological symptoms had disappeared. Today, I’ve found myself again, as well as my husband, my children, and my job.”
– Karine, age 33
Suicide is never a solution and it’s important to take action to prevent it.
If the above-mentioned symptoms apply to you, you can take action right away by making changes to your lifestyle. Lifestyle changes won’t cure depression or solve addiction problems but they can eliminate factors that aggravate or contribute to your condition. Be sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour, eat well, exercise daily (for help with an exercise plan consult the website: www.0-5-30.com), and reduce your dependence on alcohol, drugs, or gambling (www.dependances.gouv.qc.ca).
Everyone has human qualities they can draw on to help a suicidal person. Anyone can be called upon to help a friend, parent, or coworker
If you find yourself in this situation, the following tips can help you assist someone in trouble:
- Take the person seriously and avoid mocking them, moralizing, or challenging them.
- Tell them that you’re worried about them.
- Listen to them and show them that you understand the severity of their distress.
- Check whether the person is thinking of committing suicide, and if so, try to find out how, where, and when they intend to do it—the more precise the plan, the greater the need to act quickly.
- Support the suicidal person in their search for a solution but respect your own limits and avoid doing everything in the person’s place.
- Encourage the person to go for help and accompany them if necessary.
- Seek information and support for yourself so you can be in a better position to help.
Keeping the suicidal person’s secret to yourself can limit your ability to act and leave you carrying the burden of the other person’s well-being on your own. However, out of respect for the affected person, be discreet when seeking help.
You may feel that you’re unable to take action. In this case, make sure that someone else does. And in all cases, don’t be the only person to intervene.
To get help (for suicidal persons, their families, and people grieving after a suicide); call your suicide prevention center.
You can reach the suicide prevention help line around the clock in most regions of Québec by dialing the following toll-free number : 1-866-277-3553
Other resources are also available:
- Health and social services centers
- Crisis centers
- Doctors and psychiatrists
- Psychologists and other healthcare professionals
If you have experienced debilitating suffering for a number of days, are having difficulty meeting your professional or family obligations, or feel overwhelmed by hopelessness and despair, you should see your family doctor or another healthcare professional right away. Don’t wait until you are incapable of functioning normally before seeking help. A professional can determine with you whether you are suffering from depression or another problem and suggest a treatment plan adapted to your needs.
If you have suicidal thoughts or fear for your safety or that of someone you know, call 911, contact Info-Santé (telephone: 811) or see a doctor IMMEDIATELY.
Suicide is not an illness, but rather a symptom that something is wrong. Suicide can be prevented and specialized services exist for conditions associated with suicide.
There are proven treatments for depression, and the earlier you consult a professional, the better the chance the treatment will be successful. In most cases, psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of the two has been found to be very effective. Depression experts generally recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy.
Specialized resources for treating alcohol, drug, and gaming addictions provide proven treatments that can help you reduce and control your addictive behaviors.
The following are some useful links for getting emergency help or more information:
- Suicide prevention line: 1-866-277-3553
- Emergency services: 911
- Info-Santé: 811
- Association québécoise de prévention du suicide
- Drugs-Help and Referral : Call 1-800-265-2626
In the greater Montreal area dial 514-527-2626
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Gambling-Help and Referral : 1-800-461-0140
In the greater Montreal area, dial 514-527-0140
- Joueurs anonymes (Gamblers Anonymous)
- Tel-jeunes (Bilingual site for young people): 1-800-263-2266
In the greater Montreal area dial 514-288-2266
- Parent help line: 1-800-361-5085
In the greater Montreal area dial 514-288-5555