September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, and BC Children’s Hospital is spreading the message that suicide is preventable. Death by suicide among young people continues to be a serious problem; it is the second leading cause of death among young people in BC, Canada and worldwide. Strong feelings of stress, confusion, fear and anxiety can be experienced when faced with problems or obstacles they are having difficulties managing in their lives. This can be anything from family problems, troubles with friends or peers, pressure from school and homework to mental or physical health disorders/diseases.
We know that talking about it can spread awareness of resources available, reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking, and is the first step to take if you are concerned about someone who may be thinking about suicide. Dr. Tyler Black, psychiatrist at BC Children’s Hospital and specialist in suicide is reminding us that while talking about suicide with someone you’re worried about may be difficult, it could encourage them to seek help.
“The big thing you can do to start this conversation is use a noticing technique,” said. Dr. Tyler Black, psychiatrist with BC Children’s Hospital. “Start with something like, I’ve noticed you’ve been having difficulties concentrating lately, or I’ve been noticing that you’ve been having struggles here, you’ve looked sadder than I’m used to. Is there anything going on that I can help you with?”
He shares that many focus on the distress side of suicide, and forget it’s the stress and concerns that usually prompt someone to head in that direction. And, if you’re feeling unsure of how to approach someone or where to seek help, he reminds people that there are trusted adults, teachers, counsellors, mental health professionals and resources like crisis lines to support you.
“It’s always OK to reach out, find someone who’s a professional or someone who works with young people and express your concerns and they can help guide you to where to get more help.”
Dr. Black also encourages any young people who are having suicidal thoughts or distressed thinking to reach out because help is there for you.
“My advice to a young person who’s struggling is to reach out to a trusted adult. This could be a school counsellor, a teacher, a parent, a family friend or other family member, and just express your concerns and ask if you can talk to them to get more help.”
Resources available to youth, young adults and families:
• If you are thinking about suicide or if you are worried about someone else who you think is considering suicide, call the distress line:
o Greater Vancouver: 604-872-3311
o Toll free – Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast: 1-866-661-3311
o TTY: 1-866-872-0113
o BC-wide: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre (keltymentalhealth.ca
) provides a range of information and resources for professionals and families, including, the Healthy Living It’s in Everyone toolkit for families who have a child/youth dealing with mental health challenges.