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What to do if a loved one is having suicidal thoughts

Did you know that suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Canadians aged 15 to 24? In this country, approximately 4,000 people in this age group commit suicide every year, making it the second leading cause of death after accidents (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2019). Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world. That’s why it’s important to take an unfiltered approach when talking about it!

If one of your friends tells you they are having suicidal thoughts, you can’t keep it to yourself, even if they ask you to. You don’t have to carry this weight alone. You need to encourage your friend to ask for help, and you need to ask for help for yourself. It may feel like a heavy burden to carry and that’s normal.


What to do if a loved one is having suicidal thoughts

Although it may not be easy, try to stay open and listen. The person is confiding in you, so you want to keep this channel of communication open. The next step is establishing the level of urgency, because as soon as someone talks about suicide, the situation is serious. Does your loved one have a specific plan? Do they intend to act quickly? If so, call 911 immediately. Your loved one needs help RIGHT NOW.

Are their plans unclear or not for the near future? The situation is still serious, but there’s less of a sense of urgency. You can call to speak to a representative at 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553) or go to suicide.ca.

Sometimes the signs are more subtle. However, if you feel that the situation may be serious, trust your judgment. The Crisis Centre staff will help you determine your next steps.

After that, think of yourself. If you need help, support or someone to listen, find the resource nearest you. CAP santé mentale’s member organizations can help.


Sources :

In Quebec :  suicide.ca – 1 866 APPELLE (277-3553)

Rest of Canada : criseservicescanada.ca – 1 833-456-4566

CAP santé mentale : capsantementale.ca/reseau-organismes-aide

Canadian Mental Health Association: Fast facts on mental illness. [Online]. cmha.ca/find-info/mental-health/general-info/fast-facts/

Mental Health Commission of Canada, Research on Suicide and its Prevention: What the current evidence reveals and topics for future research, 2018.

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