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  • Writer's pictureAlexis Haws

Suicide Prevention Day: Knowing the Risks and How to Help

Updated: Apr 9



Every year, on September 10th, the world observes Suicide Prevention Day. This day serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of recognizing the signs of suicide risk and taking action to save lives. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 700,000 people die by suicide each year globally, making it a leading cause of death. However, with awareness and intervention, many of these tragic deaths can be prevented. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs of suicide risk and how you can help someone in crisis.


Understanding Suicide Risk:


  • Depression and Hopelessness: One of the most common factors in suicide risk is the presence of clinical depression or a profound sense of hopelessness. People struggling with these feelings may view suicide as the only way out of their emotional pain.

  • Social Isolation: Withdrawal from social activities and relationships can be a sign of impending suicide. When someone isolates themselves, they often lack the support and connections that can help them through tough times.

  • Verbal Clues: Pay close attention to what someone says. Expressions like "I can't go on," "I wish I were dead," or "I'm a burden to others" may indicate suicidal thoughts.

  • Drastic Behavior Changes: Significant changes in a person's behaviour, such as sudden aggression or recklessness, can be red flags. Substance abuse can also increase suicide risk.

  • Giving Away Possessions: Sometimes, individuals planning suicide give away their possessions or make statements about not needing them anymore.

  • Preoccupation with Death: A preoccupation with death or an obsession with suicide-related topics, such as searching the internet for methods, can be indicative of suicidal thoughts.

  • Previous Suicide Attempts: A history of suicide attempts is a strong risk factor. People who have attempted suicide before are more likely to try again.

  • Sudden Calmness: Paradoxically, some people exhibit an eerie calmness or relief when they have decided to end their life because they have a plan and feel like they're taking control of their situation.


How to Help:


  • Ask Directly: If you suspect someone is at risk of suicide, don't hesitate to ask them directly. Be compassionate and non-judgmental. Simply asking, "Are you thinking about suicide?" can open up a conversation. Contrary to popular belief, asking about suicide will not make someone more likely to think about it. Asking about it often helps people feel seen and understood.

  • Listen Actively: When they do open up, listen without interrupting or offering solutions. Sometimes, people just need someone to listen and validate their feelings.

  • Encourage Professional Help: Once the person has been heard and is open to talking about solutions, encourage the person to seek professional help, such as a therapist or counsellor. Offer to assist in finding resources or accompany them to appointments.

  • Stay Connected: Stay in touch with the person and continue to provide support. Isolation can exacerbate their feelings of despair.

  • Help Remove Access to Means: If you are aware of specific means or methods the person intends to use, help them take action to remove or restrict access to them.

  • Involve Trusted Individuals: Reach out to the person's friends, family, or support network to let them know about the situation and work together to provide help.

  • Reach Out to a Crisis Line: You never have to go about figuring these situations out alone. If you or someone you care about could be at risk for suicide, volunteers and staff at your local crisis line are prepared to help you. They can help risk assess the situation, listen and provide resources to help keep the person safe.


Below are some local resources to help if you or someone you know is at risk for suicide:

  • Calgary Distress Centre: The Distress Centre is run by trained and caring volunteers and staff who are ready to help in time of need. The volunteers and staff are trained to risk assess for suicide, provide emotional support and help make connections to resources in your local community.

You can reach out to the Distress Center by:


  • Calgary ConnecTeen: Calgary ConnecTeen is the Distress Centre’s crisis support program specifically for teenage individuals. The volunteers and staff have the same training as Distress Centre staff and can help ensure safety, emotional support and resource connections.

You can reach out to ConnecTeen by:


  • Healing With Alexis: I have spent the majority of my career helping people at risk of suicide, both as a crisis worker and now as a Psychologist. If you or anyone you know is at risk of suicide and is ready to give therapy a try, I am here.

I can be reached by:

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