During times of particular stress, thoughts of suicide can be common or chronic for some people. These thoughts may be a normal response to feeling that there are no solutions to the current problem, or feeling that "I don't want to continue living like this." Sometimes, these thoughts can be fleeting and then we realize the bad situation is just that - a bad situation that we will get through and that life is worth living again. However, at other times, stress can seem intolerable and as a result, the thoughts of suicide are persistent or even reach a crisis stage where you are afraid you may act on them.
Information published by the Canadian Mental Health Association describes the following risk factors for possible suicide:
While ANY INTOLERABLE STRESS places someone at risk for considering suicide, not everyone thinks of suicide as the answer when problems become difficult. The method for assessing the imminence of risk for suicide is called the CPR ++ method. This involves consideration of the existence of a Current plan, Pain, presence or lack of Resources, history of prior attempts and mental health issues. Information about a current plan indicates how close someone is to attempting suicide. Has a method been chosen? How lethal is it? What preparations have been made? Has a specific time been identified to complete this plan? In terms of pain, does the pain feel unbearable at times? The pain can be mental or physical or both. People in unbearable pain are desperate for relief and desperation can lead to suicide. Assessing resources includes identifying external supports (e.g. family, friends, a caring teacher, etc.) a person feels they can reach out to as well as the internal resources someone possesses, such as self-esteem, coping skills, physical and mental health, as well as individual values or beliefs. In terms of prior attempts, research indicates that people who have previously attempted suicide are at much greater risk of choosing this option again as a solution to intolerable stress. Also, if a significant person in your life has chosen to end their life by suicide, this is considered to be a prior attempt as this behaviour has been modeled. In terms of mental health issues, has the person received mental health care? People who experience mental health concerns such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcohol and substance abuse, borderline personality disorder and trauma are at increased risk for suicide.
What we know about suicide is that talking about these thoughts does not contribute to attempting suicide, but it actually gives permission to be able to talk about your reality and know that someone is listening and cares. Talking about thoughts of suicide provides a release for these feelings and allows for problem-solving to begin or at the very least support for what you are going through.
If you are a student and are having thoughts of suicide, it is first important to know that these can be normal thoughts in response to a difficult situation. Usually, people just want a break from the problem, but not from life. Think about how chronic and imminent these thoughts are for you, and then get help accordingly. If you are on the Doon campus, help is available by making an appointment to see a doctor in Health Services (Doon Campus, Room 1A102) or by accessing personal counselling in Counselling Services. Depending upon your risk of harming yourself, when you are making an appointment it is important to tell the receptionist your situation is urgent. If you need to see a counsellor that day, say so. Crisis times are made available every morning and afternoon to accommodate students who need immediate help. If you are feeling at imminent risk of harming yourself, indicate to the receptionist you need to see a counsellor during one of these crisis times. If it is after hours or on the week-end and you feel your situation is urgent, access assistance at the Mobile Crisis Team, 519-744-1813 or 1-866-366-4566 or go to the nearest emergency department at the hospital (also see Emergency Contacts - Community). If you live outside of the K-W area, go to the emergency department at the hospital nearest you.
If you are a faculty member and are concerned about a student at risk of suicide, please refer to the Faculty/ Staff Information section of this website for information on Situations Requiring Immediate Referral.
If you are interested in reading more information on the topic of suicide, check out our on-line links.