Suicide is a complex issue involving numerous factors, among them could be mental illness, addiction, trauma, major life changes or losses. It is important to know that unbearable feelings of despair, self-doubt, humiliation or hopelessness can happen to anyone at any age, and do not mean the person is weak or flawed.

For someone experiencing a mood disorder like depression, thoughts of suicide can be a symptom of the illness. Suicidal thoughts are also known to be a potential side effect of some medications. But even someone who is not on medication or experiencing a mental illness can be suicidal due to life situations that seem insurmountable to them at the moment. Someone who may be considering suicide may or may not exhibit warning signs such as making suicide threats or statements revealing a desire to die, or they might have sudden changes in behaviour or appetite.

Some people who have attempted suicide and survived have shared their experiences and have advice to offer. Survivors emphasize the critical importance knowing that help is available in times of need. Another survivor, who experienced hopelessness due to depression, stresses that this illness is very treatable once recognized and the help needed is attained. Building resilience and coping strategies earlier in life can help to reduce the likelihood that suicide will be seen as the only option.

Suicide prevention is aided by addressing the stigma of suicide and mental illness. If you know someone who may be experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, discuss their feelings openly and frankly. Show genuine interest in what they are experiencing and assist them in getting professional help.

If you are experiencing an illness like depression or have suicidal thoughts, you should not be afraid to ask for help and tell people how you feel and what you need. There should be no shame in discussing what thousands of people experience every year. There are many different avenues to find effective help. Emergency clinics and helplines can provide immediate assistance, while bereavement councillors, therapists, doctors, and mental health clinics can work with you to provide the right treatment options. An example of the many free resources available can be found at the website of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

One suicide survivor had suffered with debilitating mental illness and tells of having her son visit her in hospital after her suicide attempt. She had thought her children would be better off without her. But her son said to her, “I would rather have a sick mom than no mom at all.” After finally getting effective treatment, going back to school, starting a new and exciting career, her advice to those considering suicide is this: “Never give up. Keep going. It can be really small things, just one step, one minute, one second of your life where you choose to keep going. But always keep going.”

To hear more about this remarkable woman’s journey listen to her short video.