Suicide prevention

If you or a friend are considering suicide, you are not alone. The most important thing you can do is reach out to give or get help.

Prevent suicide: Know the warning signs

University can be a challenging place and it is normal for many students to experience periods when they feel sad and discouraged. However, sometimes these feelings can be overwhelming and at times may lead to thoughts of suicide.

Contact a mental health professional or call 1 800 SUICIDE (1 800 784 2433) immediately if you or someone you know exhibits one or more of the following:

  • threatening to hurt or kill themselves, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill themselves;
  • looking for ways to kill themselves by trying to get firearms, pills, or other potentially lethal instruments; and/or,
  • talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide (if these are out of the ordinary for the person).

Contact a mental health professional or call 1 800 SUICIDE (1 800 784 2433) as soon as possible if you or someone you know exhibits one or more of the following:

  • feeling hopeless;
  • feeling rage or uncontrolled anger, and seeking revenge;
  • acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking;
  • feeling trapped, as if there were “no way out”;
  • using alcohol or drugs increasingly;
  • withdrawing from friends, family, and society;
  • experiencing anxiety, agitation, or sleeplessness, or sleeping all the time;
  • having dramatic mood changes; and/or,
  • feeling that there is no reason for living and having no sense of purpose in life.

Help yourself

Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Reach out as early as possible.

Tell someone

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or feel worried that you may do something to harm yourself, tell someone immediately. Go somewhere safe where you can be with a trusted person or ask a friend or family member to stay with you. If you are not able to connect with a friend or family members, call 1 800 SUICIDE (1 800 784 2433).

Get rid of any means to hurt yourself

If you have anything that you’ve had thoughts about using to hurt or kill yourself with, get rid of them or give them to someone you trust.

Create a safety plan

Plan ahead for your safety when you have suicidal thoughts. Ask a trusted family member, friend, or counsellor to help you develop a step-by-step plan for how to keep yourself safe. If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, call 911 for immediate help and to be transported to the hospital.

Call crisis lines

Crisis lines are free and confidential 24-hour distress lines that provide non-judgmental support and resources:

Access other resources

  • See a doctor
  • See a counsellor
  • Go to emergency department of closest hospital
  • Call 911

Many people will deny that they need help, believing that they should be able to cope on their own, but this is a false and harmful belief; true strength is admitting that you need help.

Help others

You can talk about it

It’s okay to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide. Asking about suicide and talking about difficult feelings is not going to increase the risk of someone attempting to harm themselves or dying by suicide.

The majority of people who feel suicidal exhibit warning signs. They want and need help.

Let your friend know that you support them

Let your friend know that they are not alone, and that you have had difficulties too. However, you may not be able to understand what your friend is going through, so don’t simplify the problem by looking through the lens of your own experience.

Encourage your friend to see a health care professional

If he or she refuses to see someone who specializes in mental health, encourage your friend to see a family doctor.

Offer to come to the appointment or just to the doctor’s office. If your friend is uncomfortable or unable to communicate the problem, offer to do it for him or her.

Make sure to communicate that getting help is not weak

Many people will deny that they need help, believing that they should be able to cope on their own, but this is a false and harmful belief; true strength is admitting that you need help.

Call crisis lines

Crisis lines are free and confidential 24-hour distress lines that provide non-judgmental support and resources:

Learn about depression

Suicide and depression

Feeling suicidal is often a sign of depression, for which there are effective treatments. Suicidal thoughts can also be triggered by other emotional, personal problems and these too can be successfully addressed through appropriate professional care.

What is depression?

Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness as well as loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities that lasts for two weeks or more. It may also involve feeling irritable, guilty, or worthless. Other symptoms might include difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and changes in appetite and weight. Depression is often brought on by a combination of stressors and difficulty coping with these stressors. In some cases, depression can also be, in part, biologically based.

Questions, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training