Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group. There is a very high correlation between suicide ideation (thoughts of suicide) and mental illness. It is often the result of feelings of hopelessness or grief. People who complete or attempt suicide can be of any age, gender, or from any social group. However, men are more likely to die by suicide. Most people who die by suicide do not necessarily want to die. They do want the pain they are experiencing to stop.
Who is most likely to be at risk of suicide?
- People with depression, substance abuse disorder, some other mental disorders
- A family history of mental disorders, violence or suicide
Postsecondary students may be at risk for any of the above reasons. Additionally, depression caused by social isolation, academic pressures or negative feelings can be a contributing factor.
There are treatments associated with the risk factors as well as talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy which can help people learn effective ways of dealing with stressful experiences. Some medications may help.
Myths about suicide:
Suicide notes are always left at the time of suicide.
- Fact: Notes are rarely left
People who talk about suicide rarely attempt suicide.
- Fact: Talk about suicide is a major warning sign. Suicide talk can escalate into thoughts which can escalate to attempts at suicide.
Once someone has attempted suicide, they will not attempt again.
- Fact: People who have attempted in the past are most at-risk for future attempts.
The suicide rate is highest around Christmas.
- Fact: The rate is rather consistent throughout the year with a slight rise in January peaking in early spring.
Some warning signs:
- Talking about suicide
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary.
If you hear someone talking about suicide, it is important to have them talk to a counsellor or advisor or someone they trust as soon as possible. Your college has a protocol that may guide you in who to contact in this event.
For more information:
- See the Suicide Prevention Resource Toolkit from the Centre for Suicide Prevention.
- See the Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Resource Toolkit from the Centre for Suicide Prevention.
- See further information at the Canadian Mental Health Association
- Information about coping with suicide can be found at Mayo Clinic
- For a description of the warning signs visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
- View Alicia’s story – Mental Health Superhero
- View this short clip outlining the statistics of suicide in Canada by the CAMH
- Watch the Jack Windeler story as told by his father.