SUICIDE

Background
Suicide is an issue that most of us would rather not deal with, however suicide is a reality, and it is more common than we would like to think.
more than 3,500 Canadians kill themselves each year
1 in every 25 Canadians attempts suicide during their lifetime
a 1994 United Nations study over a 3 year period found Canada's suicide rate of children and youth under 21, to be among the highest in the world

Many times suicidal actions are a desperate "cry for help" and many suicides can be prevented. By paying attention to warning signs and talking about the "unthinkable", you may be able to prevent a death.

Why Do People Take Their Own Life?
The majority of persons who commit suicide are uncertain about taking their own life, however circumstances make them feel that life is unbearable. Suicide seems like the only way to deal with their problems because they have an extreme sense of hopelessness, helplessness and depression.

Some of the factors which may lead a person to commit suicide are:
feelings of isolation
having a serious physical or mental illness
experiencing a major loss (death of a loved one, unemployment or divorce)
abuse of drugs or alcohol
experiencing major changes in life
prolonged depression

What Are the Danger Signs?
People planning suicide often leave clues and communicate their plans to others, yet many people do not take such threats seriously. Individuals expressing suicidal intentions should always be taken seriously.

Some of the signs to look out for are:
verbal suicide threats, ie. - "you would be better off without me"
personality changes or odd behaviour
giving away prized possessions
lack of interest in future plans
isolation from friends and colleagues
depression

What Can You Do To Help Prevent A Suicide?
A person contemplating suicide needs the support of people who listen and care.

If you are concerned that someone you know may be suicidal, take action:
find a place to talk where the person feels comfortable, they need to know that you respect their need for privacy
encourage the individual to express their feelings freely - the single most important thing you can do is to listen attentively without judgment
ask them whether they have considered suicide, bringing up the subject will not cause them to act upon it
talk to them about your concern and fears, they need to know that someone does care
ask if there is anything you can do
talk about the resources which can give them support; family, friends, clergy, counseling or treatment
let them know that you are there to support them, but also know your limits - you cannot do it alone

What Can You Do If Your Are Feeling Suicidal?
It may seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and asking others for help and discussing your feelings can seem like a daunting task. However if you reach out you will discover that there is help and you are not alone. Many people have felt suicidal when facing difficult times and have survived, usually returning to quite normal lives.

If you have these feelings you should:
talk to a friend or family member about your feelings
call a crisis telephone support line
talk to your family doctor; he/she can arrange for counseling
get involved in a self help group/talk to people who have "been there"
avoid making major decisions which you may later regret

Where Can You Go For Help?
Remember you are not alone. Reaching out for help and knowing where to go for positive support can prevent a tragedy. You may want to contact your family physician, your spiritual advisor or the local Crisis Intervention Centre.

The above information was obtained from the Canadian Mental Health Association site, under Fact Sheets.


PREVENTING ABUSE AND VIOLENCE

Thousands of children are emotionally, sexually of physically mistreated every day in Ontario. A lot of these children suffer in silence because of either fear, lack of information or believing that they are to blame for their own maltreatment. Abuse affects people of all ages, in every community. It wears many faces and contributes to many social problems.

  • Nearly 100,000 child protection investigations take place in Canada by provincial social services every year.
  • It is estimated that one quarter of all children are abused before they turn 16 - and nearly 30 per cent of the time the perpetrators are adolescents.
  • Suicide rate have risen dramatically among teens.The suicide rate for Canadian males between the ages of 15 and 19 was 18.5 per 100,000 people - almost twice as high as the 1970 rate. Recent findings indicate that abuse and bullying often drive young people to suicide.
  • Studies have shown that prevention education is critical to stopping the tragic cycle of violence. Those who were abused as children are more likely to repeat the offence themselves or to get involved in another form of criminal activity.

HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

  • Arrange for professionsl training of those within your organization with a vested interest in the safety of youth within your community.
  • Training can include development of policy, codes of conduct, and risk management plans related to harassment, bullying and abuse.
  • Become a prevention education and make a difference in the lives of young people by delivering life-changing information.
  • Help people in need through a financial donation.

The above information obtained from the Canadian Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.ca