Suicide Awareness and Prevention
Suicide Awareness and Prevention
Saturday, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day. In light of the back-to-school season and business that surrounds this time, it is important to take a moment to reflect on this topic.
Many Ambrose University students, alongside university students around the globe, have reported feeling suicidal or know someone in their lives who has been or is suicidal. Unfortunately, a large stigma still surrounds the topic of suicide and mental health in today’s society. This stigma has been shown to prevent people from reaching out and asking for help when they need it due to feelings of embarrassment, weakness, or shame. However, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds in Canada. The Governors State University suggests that many of the reasons suicide rates are so high among university students are because of the change in environment, responsibilities, and greater stress. Students often begin to feel lonely when they are at university, which can lead to students withdrawing from the group as well as having little social support.
Students who feel they are alone in this battle can enter a state of loneliness, even if they have people around them all the time. This state is like being in a room full of people you know, but you feel like no one truly knows you. Constant time spent in this state can lead to more time spent alone with one’s thoughts, which can be a dangerous place for someone struggling with their mental health or suicidal thoughts. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention states that “... your brain is not your friend” when suicidal thoughts arise. Due to the intensity of suicidal thoughts and feelings, your brain is impaired, and you are not able to make decisions clearly. Make sure to always check on your friends or those around you as you never know what they may be going through. In addition, if you are feeling lonely or suicidal, try your best to reach out to a friend or a professional for help.
If you think someone may be having suicidal thoughts, the best thing to do is talk to them, ask them directly if they are thinking or have thought about suicide, and let them know that you are there for them. As scary as it seems to ask outright if they are having suicidal thoughts, it will not push someone to do something they weren’t thinking about before; it will give them a safe space to express their feelings. If the person answers yes to your question, you then must ask if they have a plan. If the answer is yes again, ask them for the details of their plan. You can then encourage the individual to come with you to get help. If the person refuses, let them know that you will be notifying someone who can help. All conversations are kept confidential unless an individual is going to harm themselves or others. If you think the individual is in an emergent situation where they may hurt themselves, do not leave the person alone.
Here are some warning signs of suicide to look out for:
● Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as "I'm going to kill myself," "I wish I were dead" or "I wish I hadn't been born"
● Getting the means to take their own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
● Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
● Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
● Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
● Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
● Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
● Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
● Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
● Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there is no other logical explanation for doing this
● Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again
● Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above
At Ambrose, there are a variety of supports available to help one navigate through suicidal thoughts, feelings, or actions:
1. Counselling Services: Ambrose has a team of professional counsellors that anyone can book a meeting with. The first five sessions with a counsellor will be covered by Ambrose, so be sure to take advantage of that opportunity! After the initial five free sessions, the following sessions will be offered to students at a discounted price.
2. IM Well App: This app is available to students, their families, and alumni students. The app provides free access to online counselling services as well as any wellness resources that you may need. This app is available 24 hours a day, no matter one's situation.
3. Student Life: Student Life is a team of professionals at Ambrose that are here to best support you and your learning strategies. Whether you need support in wellness, academics, spiritual life, counselling, or just need someone to talk to, the staff in Student Life would love to connect with you!
4. The Peer Health Educators Team and Student Leaders: The PHE team are students who work closely with the Wellness Coordinator at Ambrose and plan events to help educate students on their health and wellness in engaging ways. The PHE team can be a listening ear or friend when you need one, as well as point you in the right direction for more long-term support. All the student leaders and staff on campus have taken their suicide prevention training and know how they can support students!
Someone who dies from suicide is not “selfish,” a “coward,” or an “attention seeker,” nor is someone for having suicidal thoughts. These are just myths that are meant to bring shame upon people for needing help. It is okay to need help and ask for it, and it is okay not to be 100% okay. Everyone is different and will require different forms of support. What you are going through is valid, and there are people around who love and care about you and want to support you through the hard times.
Emergency Services: 911
Suicide Hotline Canada: 1-833-456-4566
Mental Health Help Line Alberta: 1-877-303-2642
Ambrose Campus Security: 493-827-0108
Canada, P. H. A. of. (2021, August 23). At-a-glance – 2015 injury deaths in Canada. Www.canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/reports-publications/he…
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. (2022). I’m Having Thoughts of Suicide. Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. https://suicideprevention.ca/im-having-thoughts-of-suicide/
Governors State University. (2022). Welcome to Governors State University in Chicago’s Southland. Www.govst.edu. https://www.govst.edu/suicide-prevention/
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Suicide: What to do when someone is suicidal. Mayo Clinic; Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/in-depth/suicide…
Monzingo, A., MS, NCC, LMHP, & LMHC. (2020, September 9). Stay Connected: Social Isolation Is a Risk Factor for Suicide. Nebraska Methodist Health System. https://bestcare.org/news/20200909/stay-connected-social-isolation-risk…
Olson, R. (2016). Suicide and Stigma - Centre for Suicide Prevention. Centre for Suicide Prevention. https://www.suicideinfo.ca/resource/suicideandstigma/