SUICIDE & SEPARATION – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP. In today’s important blog, Audra Bayer of our Kelowna office provides some key advice to help prevent suicide or self harm after separation. If you have concerns for yourself or a loved one call the information lines set out below or reach out to one of our lawyers at any of our offices across CANADA.
It is now common knowledge that COVID 19 has exacerbated mental health and family violence issues and that the number of persons separating has also significantly increased. National research shows that 15 per cent (or 4,673,565) of Canadian couples have separated since the Pandemic began in 2020 (and this study was completed in May of 2021 so it can be presumed that the numbers by now are in fact much higher). Studies show men are at higher risk and the odds of suicide increase by 2.4 times for separated spouses.
SUICIDE & SEPARATION – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP
Finder Canada’s study concluded:
- 25 per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 have experienced a pandemic split, the most of any age group.
- 17 per cent of Canadians aged 35-44 are splitting at slightly more than the national average of 14 per cent.
- Breakups among British Columbia couples are the third highest in the country at 17 per cent with Nova Scotia ahead at 21 per cent and Quebec taking the top spot with 23 per cent.
- Nearly a quarter (21 per cent) of 35-44-year-old Canadians say that COVID-19 has hurt their relationship.
- In some good news for the recently single, just under half of Canadians are going at it alone and report that they do not have a romantic partner.
The other troubling fact is that the rate of suicide among persons who are divorced or separated is usually reported as about 2.4 times greater than the suicide rate for married persons. A successful marriage, it seems, can be a protective factor against death by suicide. Conversely, separation and divorce seems to raise suicide risk. So, SUICIDE & SEPARATION – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Studies have also noted that there were huge differences between the suicide rates among divorced men, as compared to divorced women.
Men commit suicide more often than women, but the rate for women is increasing faster. The divorce rate for those over 50 is rising sharply. It is important to also recognize that children feel the brunt of their parents’ divorce, with adult children of divorce being 14% more likely to attempt suicide than those from intact families. Look at the warning signs below to deal with SUICIDE & SEPARATION – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP.
WARNING SIGNS AND MYTHS ABOUT SUICIDE:
Professionals working with separating persons and family members and friends who know someone going through a separation, must pay attention to the warning signs relating to depression and risks associated with suicide.
Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a client, friend or family member is suicidal, there’s plenty you can do to help save a life. Here are some key tips related to SUICIDE & SEPARATION – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP.
|Common misconceptions about suicide|
|The National Institute for Mental Health confirms that the following are myths associated
Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it. Don’t ignore even indirect references
to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out”
Don indirect,”—no matter how casually or jokingly said—may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
|Myth: Anyone who tries to kill themselves must be crazy. Most suicidal people are not psychotic
or insane. They are upset, grief-stricken, depressed, despairing, but extreme distress
and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.
|Myth: If someone is determined to kill themselves, nothing is going to stop them. Even a very
severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, fluctuating between wanting to live
and wanting to die. Rather than wanting death, they just want the pain to stop—
and the impulse to end their life does not last forever.
|Myth: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help. Many people try
to get help before attempting suicide. In fact, studies indicate that more than 50 percent of suicide
victims had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.
|Myth: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea. You don’t give someone suicidal ideas
by talking about suicide. Rather, the opposite is true. Talking openly and honestly about
suicidal thoughts and feelings can help save a life.
Major warning signs for suicide include talking about killing or harming oneself, talking or writing a lot about death or dying, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as weapons and drugs. These signals are even more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.
A more subtle, but strong predictor of suicide is hopelessness. People who feel hopeless may talk about “unbearable” feelings, predict a bleak future, and state that they have nothing to look forward to.
Other Suicide warning signs include:
Talking about suicide; Seeking out lethal means; Preoccupation with death; No hope for the future Self-loathing, Self-hatred; Getting affairs in order; Saying goodbye; Withdrawing from others; Self-destructive behavior Sudden sense of calm – A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.
SUICIDE & SEPARATION – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP 1 877 602 9900
Take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide—it’s a cry for help. Be alert to SUICIDE & SEPARATION – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP.
If you believe that a client, friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by providing support, showing that you care, and getting a professional involved such as a doctor or therapist. Recruiting support from other friends and family members can also help. Reminding this person that they are loved and supported and that there are alternatives is important.
The National Mental Health Institute recommends the following:
Speak up if you’re worried
Anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable, anxious or fearful in talking about suicide. The importance of putting those feelings aside in favor of initiating a life saving conversation cannot be understated.
Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express their feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.
Ways to start a conversation about suicide:
“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
“Recently, I’ve noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”
“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”
Questions you can ask:
“When did you begin feeling like this?”
“Did something happen to make you start feeling this way?”
“How can I best support you right now?”
“Have you thought about getting help?”
What you can say that helps:
“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”
“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”
“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”
“When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”
Respond quickly in a crisis
If a friend or family member tells you that they’re thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for committing suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.
The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:
- Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
- Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
- Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
- Do you intend to take your own life? (INTENTION)
|Level of Suicide Risk|
|Low – Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. The person says they won’t attempt suicide.|
|Moderate – Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says they won’t attempt suicide.|
|High – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says they won’t attempt suicide.|
|Severe – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. The person says they will attempt suicide.|
If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, emergency services number (911), or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.
SUICIDE & SEPARATION – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP -Offer help and support
If a friend or family member is suicidal, the best way to help is by having the courage to initiate a conversation and by offering an empathetic, listening ear and your support. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of energy to help someone who is suicidal. Please make sure that you take care of yourself as well. Take immediate steps for yourself and find someone that you trust to talk to about your feelings and get support of your own. Do not try to navigate this all on your own. It is always important to obtain the advice and help of a professional as soon as possible.
During this holiday season, please take care of you and your family and friends. We hope that your holiday season is filled with joy and peace.
In the event however that you are someone you knows needs help, here are some of the available resources for residents in British Columbia:
Canada Suicide Prevention Service