Some warning signs that a person may be suicidal:
— Repeated expressions of hopelessness, helplessness or desperation.
— Out-of-character behaviour, such as recklessness, in someone who is normally careful.
— Signs of depression: sleeplessness, social withdrawal, loss of appetite, loss of interest in usual activities.
— Sudden, unexpected change to a cheerful attitude.
— Giving away prized possessions.
— Making a will, taking out insurance or other preparations for death.
— Making remarks about death and dying, or the intent to die by suicide. Such expressed intentions should always be taken seriously.
Preventing a suicide attempt:
— If you are concerned someone may be suicidal, take action. If possible, talk with the person directly and listen attentively without judgment.
— Find a safe place to talk, assuring the person of your concern and respect for privacy.
— Ask whether the person feels desperate enough to consider suicide. If the answer is yes, ask: "Do you have a plan? How and where do you intend to kill yourself?"
— Admit your own concern and fear, but do not say: "You shouldn't be having these thoughts; things can't be that bad."
— Offer help. Talk about resources — family, friends, community agencies, crisis centres — to provide support, counselling or treatment.
— Make a plan with the person for the next few hours or days about getting help, and accompany the person, if possible.
— Stay in touch to see how the person is faring.
Canadian Mental Health Association: www.cmha.ca/bins/content_page.asp?cid=3-101-102