Most often, people experience suicidal thoughts when they have lost hope and feel helpless. They want their pain to end, and they may see no other way out.
It is important to remember that suicide is preventable. Most people who have suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide go on to live full, meaningful lives.
It may be difficult to know if a person is thinking about suicide, but familiarizing yourself with common warning signs can better prepare you to notice someone who is at risk.
People who are at risk for suicide may:
People at a higher risk of suicide include those who:
Listen to them and take them seriously.
Don’t judge or minimize their feelings. Be positive and hopeful, and remember that suicide can be prevented.
Ask them if they are having thoughts of suicide.
Don’t be afraid that you will put the idea in their head. It may be a relief for them to talk about it.
Ask if they have a plan.
Depending on their answer you may want to limit their access to lethal means, such as medication, knives or firearms.
Ask them to rate their suicidal feelings on a scale of one to 10.
Regularly ask them to tell you where they are on the scale, so you can assess if things are getting worse.
Let them know help is available.
It is important for them to know the cause of their suicidal thoughts can be successfully treated.
Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.
Some people may feel ashamed for thinking about suicide. You can help them overcome this by welcoming the conversation.
Encourage them to seek help from a doctor or mental health provider.
You can also offer to help with this if they would like.
Make a safety plan with them.
Who will they call if their feelings get stronger? Who can stay with them to keep them safe? Make a list of phone numbers of people and services they can call if they feel unsafe. Avoid leaving the person alone if they are in crisis.
Seek support for yourself.
It is important that you don’t carry this burden alone.
If someone dear to you has died by suicide, there are dedicated resources that can support you through your grief and help you make sense of what has happened.More information
Keep your finger on our pulse – latest CAMH news, discoveries and ways to get involved delivered to your inbox.
Please select a newsletter
Please complete the following:
We look forward to keeping you informed, inspired and involved in all things CAMH.
Your donation will fund the groundbreaking mental health research that is helping people on the path to recovery.