According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, around 10 people die each day by committing suicide. It’s the 9th leading cause of death in the country and is listed as a major cause of preventable deaths. Almost 90% of the people who take their life had mental health illnesses. Research shows that the biggest risk factor that triggers suicidal behaviour is mental illness.
How to Identify Suicidal Behaviour?
Even though these numbers are staggering, the good news is that suicide can be prevented. Before committing suicide, a lot of people exhibit suicidal tendencies and behavioural traits. These are caused by the mental disturbance they’re facing along with feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and depression.
Identifying these signs is a good start to help someone before they take the drastic step of ending their life. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Dramatic mood changes
- Talking about wanting to die or threatening to kill themselves
- Become withdrawn or isolated
- Increased substance abuse such as alcohol or drugs
- Reckless behaviour
- Talking about feeling hopeless or alone
- Getting agitated or angry easily
- Sleeping too much or too little
If you see more than one of these signs, you need to be prepared to intervene before something terrible happens. No matter their background or life situation, anyone can exhibit these symptoms.
Helping Someone In Crisis
More often than not, people who commit suicide can be helped by someone just being there for them and listening to what they have to say. According to Mental Health First Aid, you should try the ALGEE approach to help someone who is suicidal.
Asking tough questions can sometimes be the right answer. If you observe someone displaying suicidal tendencies, ask them questions such as:
- Are you feeling lonely/isolated?
- Are you feeling suicidal?
These questions can help you determine the urgency of the situation and whether you need to take measures to keep that person from harming themselves.
Encourage the person to talk to you and listen to them without passing any judgemental comments. A person who’s feeling suicidal is already feeling on edge and anything critical might just push them over the edge. Tell them it’s OK to feel how they’re feeling and that you’re there for them.
Give them proper reassurance that things will get better. Provide information such as a reference to a good therapist or book an appointment for them to talk to someone who can help.
Encourage them to open up about how they’re feeling and that it’s ok to get help at times. Make sure they have a safety contact for a loved one or a professional mental health expert. Also, persuade them to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for Canada 1-800-SUICIDE.
Encourage the person to connect with their personal support system by getting touch with friends, family, and loved ones. Ask them about their past and find out who they’ve turned to for support in times of personal crisis. Some people rely on family, members of the community, or even spiritual leaders. Encourage them to reach out to these people so they can realize they aren’t alone.
The important thing to remember here is that these steps shouldn’t necessarily be applied in this order. You have to assess the situation and the person you’re talking to and respond accordingly.
We, at Metro Safety, understand the importance of mental health. Our health safety programs and Red Cross first aid training classes including First Aid Training for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention are perfect for raising awareness within the British Columbia community. Contact us today to schedule a class!