Self Harm and Suicide
   
 

Suicide is defined as “intentional, self-inflicted death.” Experts in the field suggest that a suicidal person feels so much pain that they can see no other option, other than death. In fact, they may even view suicide as a problem- solving solution, since they often feel like they are a burden to others, and that if they were gone, it would be better for everyone. Suicide ideas and actions are often the result of disordered thinking or mood found in mental disorders. When the disorder is treated, the suicidality often goes away. Most people who think of suicide do not want to die, so if others around them can help them sense there is another way out, progress can be made.

All talk of suicide or any suicidal behaviour should be taken seriously. If this behaviour occurs, a mental health professional should be sought immediately. If you do not know where to obtain help, or if your child is in imminent danger of harming him/herself or others, go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.

More than 3,500 Canadians kill themselves each year and suicide is second only to accidents as a cause of death for people under the age of 35. Death by suicide is three times more common in males than in females, while suicide attempts are more common in females. There are a number of risk factors for suicide attempts and completed suicide; mental illness is one of the key factors. Others include a history of suicide attempts, a loss or bereavement (especially by suicide of a friend or family member), alcohol or drug abuse (self or family), experience of abuse or violence, gender identity issues, family history of suicide, access to firearms, a chronic illness or disability, persistent conflict in relationships, perceived failure or inadequacy, or anything that has created unbearable pain. With information and practice, everyone from families to educators can effectively and compassionately help a person at risk of suicide.

Remember, there is no suicidal “type.” Suicide occurs across age groups, classes and cultures.

Most people who are thinking about suicide give clues. Signs can be expressed directly or indirectly and picked up by different people. For example, a parent may not be aware of particular signs his/her child might show, but a close friend might notice a strange or sudden shift in behaviour. It is important to work as a team to help a person at risk of suicide – tell someone if you have any cause for concern. Reach out to the individual because he/she often does not ask for help. 


  • Early intervention is key to managing the disorder and preventing further disability.
  • Get help from a qualified health practitioner, including a professional diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis will help to prevent any incorrect “labeling” of your child by others.
  • Obtain a second opinion if possible.
  • Find a support group for both you and your child, and exchange strategies.
  • Learn all you can about the disorder and educate your family and your child about the disorder.
  • Don’t compare your child to siblings or other children. Treat your child as a unique individual.
  • Re-evaluate and modify strategies as necessary. Work closely with your child’s teacher, doctor, and school team.
 
 

   
 
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