If you need immediate support - Please call our HELP line now.
Life is full of ups and downs and we often rely on those closest to us to listen when we're scared, reassure us when we're doubtful and remind us of how valuable we are. Along the way, a support system of family, friends, and kind strangers opens our eyes to the incredible things life has to offer and brightens even the darkest of our days with hope.
Those who call our 408-HELP line are often trying to navigate intense emotional despair and severe personal distress. Many are desperate for support, and have nowhere else to turn. Our Distress Centres team of 550+ highly trained volunteers works with these individuals to overcome their most vulnerable and at risk moments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Each call has a life on the line, and we're here to make a difference by providing life-sustaining emotional support.
Unfortunately, each day 11 people in Canada take their own life, and 20 times as many make an attempt. Many of our callers feel alone, and believe that they have no one to support them. The actions of those around them have a vital impact on their decision to live another day. Survivors of suicide often mention that they made a pact with themselves - "If they ask me if I'm ok... I'll let them help me..."
Each year we receive approximately 120,000 calls to our 408-HELP line from people in Canada who are at risk and their most vulnerable. 60% of these calls are taken after-hours by our volunteers when other health and social services programs are unavailable. The Generous support of people like you has allowed us to listen, reassure and remind people in moments of doubt that their life is valuable, and give them tools to make the decision to stay.
We've also been able to connect them to hope by offering emotional support, crisis intervention, suicide prevention and linkage to emergency help when necessary. We've also been able to bring together survivors of suicide, and suicide loss to provide safe spaces where they can begin the healing process.
While no single risk factor predicts suicidal behaviour, it is helpful to be aware of circumstances that could contribute to being suicidal. A combination of these factors that would contribute to increased vulnerability of risk are as follows:
In addition to recognizing a pattern of risk factors in someone you know, it also helps to pay attention to warning signs—indicators, messages or behaviours that could be suicidal communications.
If you think that you might do something to hurt yourself, tell someone. Make sure you are around someone you trust. If you live alone, ask a friend or family member to stay with you. Connect with professional help if needed. If you don’t know anyone or can’t reach friends or family members, call your local crisis line.
Try and think about it as any other conversation. You can describe what has happened, how you feel and what you help that you think you need.
Ask for help to find support; in person, online or over the phone.
If you feel you are at imminent risk of harming yourself, call 911 or go to the local hospital emergency department.
If you need to speak to someone. We're here to listen. Please call 416-408-HELP (4357).
It is incredibly important for us to take time with the people in our lives to listen to what they're saying and really try to understand what they're experiencing. Starting a conversation with someone, asking how they're doing and sticking around to hear the answer with genuine concern can change someone's hour, day or life.
Using language that is accepting, non-threatening and non-judgemental allows people to open up and express what they're going through.
Here are some quick guidelines for appraoch someone who may be considering suicide:
Ways to start a conversation:
Please consider support of Distress Centres with either a one-time or monthly donation to help us continue to connect each vulnerable person to hope. Donations can be made online at www.torontodistresscentre.com/donate or by calling Erin at 416-595-7451. Every little bit helps.
Our team would be happy to work with and support you in your efforts!
Suicide attempts are traumatic for not only the attempt survivor but also for the people in their lives. The are a wide-variety of unique reasons why someone considers taking their own life or chooses to attempt taking their own life. Below you'll find some suggestions on how to navigate the aftermath of a suicide attempt. Keep in mind that safety and non-judgemental/positive support are the most important things to consider providing the suicide attempt survivor, the people in their life and also yourself.
Research shows that people who have attempted suicide are at greater risk to attempt suicide again. However, support and care from a strong social network can significantly reduce this risk and increase their reasons to live. Your loved one is likely to need considerable time and support from a range of people in order to manage the problems and feelings that first led to the suicide attempt. While safety is ultimately their responsibility, the following may be helpful in supporting them.
Define a Safety Plan
A safety plan is a set of instructions that is followed when someone has thoughts of suicide. The plan works best if it is created when the person at risk for suicide is well and NOT in crisis. Those involved in creating the plan should involve the person at risk, their doctor, therapist, or other professional helpers, and yourself. Some elements to include in the plan are:
Sometimes you may notice that something is not quite right before the person does. Discuss what to do if this happens so both of you have a clear understanding of what your role is in that case. When the person is in crisis, they may tell you to ignore the plan. DON’T. Remember that it is a plan they agreed to when they were feeling well. Make sure your loved one has a card listing the phone numbers for your local 24-Hour Crisis Line.
Ensure safety at home
In order to help keep the home safe for you and your loved one:
Know that there may be another attempt
After your loved one’s first attempt, you may feel shocked and surprised. The intensity of these and any other feelings will fade over time, and you may eventually look at life in a different way, or it may appear to go back to “normal.” Know that everyone responds differently to a suicide attempt and you are not wrong for any feelings you have.
Unfortunately, some people who attempt to end their lives have either tried in the past or will try again. Whatever has or does happen, it is NOT your fault. In anticipation of what might happen, you may likely experience feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness, and find yourself being hyper-vigilant. Remember to reach out for support and guidance and to take care of yourself.
Connect to hope
Victor Havel wrote, “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” As we struggle with darkness, fear, despair, and apathy, we sometimes feel that there is no hope. Hope can come in many shapes and sizes. It can be as simple and profound as the voice of another human being who appears to hear our fear; the knowledge that the sun will rise tomorrow; the smell of fresh spring rain, the first snowflake in the fall, or the photo of someone we love. The source of hope is different for each and every one of us, so try to identify what hope is to you and then hold on to that.
When despair seems to overcome us, we can feel disconnected from ourselves and from hope, and this can make us feel lost and isolated. What we need most in these moments is a way to reconnect and to belong. If you are struggling to maintain hope, or to help your loved one have hope, here are some questions that may help to define the meaning of hope for you and for them:
Sometimes hope is too hard for your loved one to imagine, and talking about hope might be distressing for them. At these times, the best you can do is carry hope for them, and let them know you have it and will share it with them if and when they are ready.
If there has been a recent suicide attempt in your family, this may be one of the toughest experiences you and your children may ever face. It is important to take care of yourself, so that you are better able to care for your child. Below you'll find guides intended to provide you with some of that support, and also share other resources that may be helpful for you now and as your family recovers. The guides are not intended to replace professional mental health advice. In fact, it may be best to use this along with professional support if you or your child is struggling with how to talk about this difficult subject.
Speaking to a 4 to 8 year old
Without the support of family or other caring adults, a young child may try to make sense of this confusing situation on his own. Children this age have magical thinking, and their own ideas about what is happening can be more frightening than the situation itself. Because preschool children do not have the vocabulary to express all their thoughts and feelings, they may act out at times.
Small children, when stressed, may exhibit changes in behavior, such as temper tantrums. They may also have trouble sleeping, and may become clingy because they are feeling insecure, anxious, or fearful. Younger children are self-interested by nature, and so they may blame themselves and feel guilty because they think they have caused the problem. Children this age will need lots of reassurance from you, and a sense that problems can be solved. It is important to instill a sense of hope that their parent/relative, while struggling, can get help and get well.
It is important to consider your child’s level of development and ability to understand events when deciding how to talk with him. Sticking to the simple facts and answering any questions he asks may be all he needs. (“Dad was feeling bad and had to go to the hospital.”
Suggestions on how to speak to your 4 to 8 year old - CLICK HERE.
You can find additional information HERE.
Speaking to a 9-13 year old
It is important to talk to your child about the suicide attempt to help her understand what has happened. Without the support of family/friends, children may try to make sense of this confusing situation themselves.
Sometimes children blame themselves for something they may or may not have done. When stressed, a child may exhibit changes in behavior, such as acting out, trouble sleeping, or becoming more attached due to insecure, anxious or fearful feelings. It is important to instill a sense of hope, that their parent/relative can get help and get well.
Suggestions on how to speak to your 9-13 year old - CLICK HERE.
You can find additional information HERE.
Speaking to a 14-18 year old
It is important to talk to your teenager about the suicide attempt to help him understand what has happened. Without the support of family/friends, he may try to make sense of this confusing situation himself. Sometimes teenagers blame themselves for something they may or may not have done.
Teenagers may not want to talk directly about their worries or feelings. Instead, they may show them in other ways. They may isolate, or not talk to their friends out of shame, uneasiness or fear of being misunderstood or rejected. It’s helpful to share a hopeful outlook, and when appropriate involve your teen in activities that may help make a positive difference. Also, it is important to consider your teenager’s level of development and ability to understand events when deciding how to talk with him about this issue. Discuss the details of the event as appropriate and help the teenager make sense of the situation while not volunteering unnecessary information.
Suggestions on how to speak to you 14-18 year old - CLICK HERE.
You can find additional information HERE.
Attempted suicide can be emotionally draining, stressful and exhausting. It is impossible to watch over someone 24/7. It is vital that you look after yourself and get the support you need. This is not something that you need to/should deal with alone. Ensure you have adequate support systems in place yourself. Identify trusted family members or friends that you can talk to, or join a local support group. If you are finding it difficult to deal with the strain of the situation, you may also wish to consider counselling or other professional support for yourself.
Additional resources as follows:
Distress and Crisis Ontario