Preventing Tragedy: Let’s Talk Suicide

*Warning that this post contains discussion of death by suicide*

I’ve thought about killing myself. Actually, a lot of people have thought about suicide. 

It’s a heavy topic, I know. But 12 people die each day by suicide in Canada. That is a shocking statistic. We need to stop avoiding the topic and address it.

We need to talk about suicide. 

My first thoughts of suicide occurred when I was very young. For many years I felt an extremely low sense of self-worth, and sometimes the pain of being a “big feeler” felt like it was too much. 

Luckily I had a network of support, and I was not afraid to talk about my scary thoughts. Where am I these days? Well, things are better, but more about that in a minute. 

These days, when I am meeting a client for the first time, I ask a question that all therapists ask: the suicide question. I am very blunt and open with clients: 

“Do you ever think about killing yourself?”

The answers to this question vary widely, but it’s so important to ask. We don’t know what is happening inside another person unless we ask and create a safe space for them to answer. 

Some people fear that asking about suicide will make it more likely, but bringing the topic out into the open will help determine if someone is at risk and can be the first step in preventing suicide. You can also ask follow-up questions to see if the person has a plan or timeline associated with their thoughts. 

If you’re worried about someone you love, or even if they seem completely fine but they’ve recently been through something challenging like a breakup, loss of a job, the birth of a child, or the loss of a loved one, it’s never a bad idea to ask the suicide question. 

What if you’re the one having these thoughts?

Please know that thoughts of suicide are VERY normal, and, like I tell my clients, there is a big difference between thinking of ending your life and acting on it. But please reach out to someone.

You can email us at Red Bridge Counselling, and we’ll chat with you about what’s going on, or you can reach out to someone you love and trust. We will also put some resources at the bottom of this article so you have somewhere to turn.

So how am I doing now? Life isn’t perfect, of course, but I no longer have the thoughts of suicide I once did. Here’s what I found out from my years of suicidal ideation: feelings and thoughts are temporary and hard times come and go. 

If you or someone you love is struggling, it’s important to remember that things change and that each of us uniquely contributes to our world. We need you to be brave enough to talk about suicide. 

Resources: Edmonton Distress Line: 780-482-4357, Talk Suicide Canada: 1-833-456-4566

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