World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10, 2018
“Taking a Minute” to Reach out to Someone in Need is the theme of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day.
Taking the time to reach out to someone in need can make all the difference in someone’s life. Whether it’s a friend, colleague or family member, the offer of support and a listening ear can help reduce levels of distress and be the first step on the path to recovery.
There is no specific statement or complex formula for reaching out to someone. Encourage them to tell their story, don’t rush them, but let them know you are there for them. Showing genuine concern, compassion and a willingness to listen without judgement is a good approach.
There is a myth that talking about suicide might plant a seed in someone’s head or encourage a vulnerable person to act. In fact, evidence suggests that reaching out is more likely to reduce distress than exacerbate it.
A large part of supporting someone in need is connecting them to resources that can help. Reaching out to a crisis line is a good start. You can talk through any concerns, discuss how best to reach out and learn about local resources that can help.
In November 2017, Crisis Services Canada launched the Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS), which is available across Canada 24/7 toll free on 1-833-456-4566.
The CSPS website also lists contact information for local crisis centres that can connect you to support organizations and resources in your area: https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/need-help/looking-for-local-resources-support/
Many crisis centres also offer suicide prevention community workshops. Examples include ASIST (a two-day, skills-building workshop that prepares caregivers to provide suicide first aid interventions) and SafeTALK (a three- to four-hour training program that prepares helpers to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources).
If you are supporting someone that is thinking about suicide, it is important to also remember to take care of yourself. Getting help for the person at risk is a big step and recruiting friends and family to help support the person will help with any pressure you may be feeling. Remember that crisis lines are a good resource, not just for people thinking of suicide, but for those providing support and anyone with a concern about suicide.
For more resources on reaching out to someone in need, see:
- International Association for Suicide Prevention (https://www.iasp.info/resources/Helping_Someone/)
- World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/en/).
For more information on ASIST and safeTALK see:
- ASIST https://www.livingworks.net/programs/asist/
- safeTALK https://www.livingworks.net/programs/safetalk/
For more information on Crisis Services Canada, contact:
- Ms. Alison Caird is President of Crisis Services Canada, and Executive Director of the Toronto Distress Centres. She can be reached at Alison@torontodistresscentre.com
- Charles Laframboise is the Executive Director of the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region. He can be reached at CLaframboise@dcottawa.on.ca
- Lisa O’Blenis is the Executive Director of Chimo Helpline, New Brunswick. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org