UNDERSTANDING SUICIDE PREVENTION
Suicide. Some would rather not talk about it, or sweep the topic
under the rug. We hope it will never happen to anyone we know. But
suicide is a reality, and it is more common than you might think.
The possibility that suicide could claim the life of someone you
love cannot be ignored because anyone can be at risk. By paying
attention to signs of risk and talking openly and honestly about
suicide, we may be able to prevent a tragic death. Furthermore,
having an open dialogue about suicide creates an awareness of the
magnitude of the problem, and reduces the stigma surrounding
Who is At Risk?
Anyone can be at risk of suicide. There are some common risk
factors, however, which may contribute to a person wanting to take
their life. They are as follows:
- A significant physical or mental health problem
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs
- A major loss, such as the death/separation/divorce of a
loved one, loss of job/income, loss of home, and other
related significant losses in one’s life
- Experiencing a major change or transition in one’s life,
e.g. teenagers and older adults
- Experiencing the impact of trauma from abuse or bullying
- Have made previous suicide threats or attempts
Why Might a Person Take Their Own Life?
Those left behind after a death by suicide are often faced with this
question. There are many circumstances that can contribute to
someone’s decision to want to end their life, but a person’s
feelings and perceptions about what is happening are more important
than the situation itself. People who consider suicide feel that at
the present time life feels unbearable. They have an extreme sense
of hopelessness, helplessness and desperation. There is an
overwhelming lack of hope about the future and a sense that there is
no one to turn to, and no other way out. People who talk about
suicide, or make an attempt, do not necessarily want to die. They
may be, knowingly or unknowingly, trying to reach out for help.
Sometimes, a suicide attempt becomes the turning point in a person’s
life if they can access the right kind of support to help themselves
make necessary changes.
What are the Signs of Suicide Risk?
Some warning signs that a person may be suicidal include:
- Repeated expressions of hopelessness, helplessness or
- Behaviour which is out of character, such as recklessness in
someone who is normally cautious
- Signs of depression: sleeplessness, social withdrawal, loss
of appetite, loss of interest in usual activities
- A sudden and unexpected change to a person’s usual attitude
- Giving away prized possessions to friends and family
- Making a will, taking out insurance, or other preparations
for death, such as telling final wishes to someone close, or
thanking someone for all they’ve done for them
- Preoccupation with death and dying, or an expressed intent
to take their life
How to Prevent a Suicide?
An expressed intent to die by suicide should always be taken very
seriously. If you are concerned that someone may be suicidal, take
action. If possible, talk with the person directly and ask if they
are having thoughts of suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
about how the person feels and why they want to die. The single most
important thing you can do is listen attentively without judgment.
Talking about suicide can only decrease the likelihood that someone
will act on their feelings. It is a harmful myth that raising the
topic with someone who is not considering suicide will give them the
idea. A person contemplating suicide needs the support of people who
will listen and care. The involvement of family and friends is very
Where Can People go for Help?
The beginning of the way out from feeling such desperation may be to
let someone else in. Many people who have felt suicidal when faced
with difficult times have gotten help to survive. Reaching out for
help and knowing where to go for appropriate support can prevent a
tragedy. Helping a person regain their will to live is more
important than anything else at this time.
If you are Feeling Suicidal:
- Draw on the support of family and close friends. Talk to
someone about how you’re feeling
- Call the Crisis Lines in your community. They are manned
with trained professionals to help you through your crisis and
link you to follow-up assistance
- Talk to your family doctor, who may also be able to refer
you to appropriate services
- Seek help from a mental health professional/organization, or
- Talk to a friend, family member, teacher, co-worker or to
anyone you feel you can trust, about how you’re feeling
- Don’t make a “permanent” decision (suicide) because of a
“temporary” problem. There is help available. You are not alone.
One Way a Community Can Respond - Where to Get Help in Brant
In the Brant Community:
- 24 Hour Assistance:
- Emergency 911
- Brant Mental Health Crisis Response Line: 519-752-2273
- Kid’s Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
- Six Nations Mobile Crisis Services: 519-445-2204 or
- St. Leonard’s Community Services Mental Health Crisis
Line: 519-759-7188 or 1-866-811-7188
- Woodview Children’s Mental Health Crisis Response (18
yrs. and under) 519-209-6788
- Ongoing Assistance:
- Canadian Mental Health Association, Brant County Branch:
- Contact Brant: 519-758-8228
- Mental Health Counselling Program (BGH) 519-751-5530
- Six Nations Mental Health Services 905-765-7840
- St. Leonard’s Community Services missing phone number
- Woodview Mental Health & Autism Services: 519-752-5308
- School Social Workers
- Guidance Counsellors
- School Nurses
- Peer Counsellors
- Suicide Prevention Support Team
In Workplaces: Know your EAP Provider and call upon them
when in need. Information is kept strictly confidential and no one
has to know you are accessing these services. Some workplaces also
have a nurse on site or union resources to help connect workers to
services. If you have a good relationship with your supervisor or a
colleague, reach out to someone you trust.
Please note: This is not a complete listing of all
services in Brant County in regards to suicide prevention. However,
calling any one of these resources will get you the help you need
and will point you in the right direction.
Additional Resources at CMHA Brant:
- Suicide Bereavement Support Group - Meets the third
Wednesday of each month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Stedman
Community Hospice (behind the St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre, 99
Wayne Gretzky Parkway, Brantford. For more information, call
519-752-2998, ext. 112
- The Mental Health & Suicide Awareness Committee of Brant –
This is an inter-agency committee that meets monthly to promote
suicide awareness and prevention. Membership includes:
Lill Petrella, Mental Health Promotion Coordinator, Canadian
Mental Health Association, Brant County Branch, 44 King Street,
Suite 203, Brantford, ON N3T 3C7 (phone) 519-752-2998, ext. 112
- Kristen Bezemer, Survivor (e-mail)
- Aaron Campbell, Student (e-mail)
- Suzanne Consoli , Mental Health Coordinator, Ontario Works
Brant (phone) 519-759-3330, ext. 6327 (e-mail)
- Wayne Hobbs, Executive Supervisor, Student Support Services,
Grand Erie District School Board (phone) 519-754-1606, ext.
- Marty McLeod, Program Consultant, CAMH (phone) 519-583-9060
- Penny McVicar, Executive Director, Victim Services of Brant
(phone) 519-752-3140 (e-mail)
- Jean Montgomery, Suicide Prevention Network of H-N &
Community Member (phone) 519-443-7492 (e-mail)
- Tim Pearce, Social Worker, Grand Erie District School Board
(519)754-1606, ext. 287229 (e-mail)
- Cathie Rice, Co-Facilitator of Suicide Bereavement Support
Group of Brant & Survivor (phone) 519-756-1132 (e-mail)
- Marlene Robertson, Co-Facilitator, Suicide Bereavement
Support Group of Brant (e-mail)
- Arden Smelser, Social Worker, Brant Haldimand Norfolk
Catholic District School Board (phone) 519-759-8862, x 417
- Cathy Stefanelli, Day Treatment Manager, Woodview Mental
Health & Autism Services (phone) 519-751-0671 (e-mail)
- Connie Sukmanowsky, Survivor (e-mail)
- Chantal Watson, Student (e-mail)
In need of Suicide Prevention Skills Training?
- Specialized training in A.S.I.S.T.™
(Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training)
ASIST has five learning sections:
- Preparing: sets the tone, norms, and expectations of the
- Connecting: sensitizes participants to their own
attitudes towards suicide. Creates an understanding of the
impact that attitudes have on the intervention process.
- Understanding: overviews the intervention needs of a
person at risk. It focuses on providing participants with
the knowledge and skills to recognize risk and develop safe
plans to reduce the risk of suicide.
- Assisting: presents a model for effective suicide
intervention. Participants develop their skills through
observation and supervised simulation experiences in large
and small groups.
- Networking: generates information about resources in the
local community. Promotes a commitment by participants to
transform local resources into helping networks.
Emphasizing structured small-group discussions and practice over
two days; the course uses a 20-page workbook and two award-winning
audiovisuals. Participants receive a 152-page Suicide Intervention
Handbook and a full color, tear-resistant wallet card featuring
intervention, risk review and safeplan development principles. They
serve as living refreshers of the workshop learning.
ASIST is designed to help all caregivers become more ready, willing
and able to help persons at risk. Prepared caregivers can help
Unprepared caregivers tend to deny, avoid, even stigmatize and
punish persons at risk. That is what society has traditionally done.
All evidence indicates that unprepared caregivers continue this
dangerous tradition. Training is required to turn denial, avoidance
and stigmatization into vigilance, understanding and help.
Learn suicide first aid. Join over one million caregivers and
participate in LivingWorks ASIST workshop. Learn to recognize and
estimate risk, and become more effective at helping people at risk.
The benefits will live on.
safeTalk™ (Suicide Alertness
for Everyone) Suicide Alertness training
safeTALK, about three hours in duration, is a training that prepares
anyone over the age of 15 to identify persons with thoughts of
suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources. Most people
with thoughts of suicide invite help to stay safe. Alert helpers
know how to use these opportunities to support that desire for
safety. As a safeTALK-trained suicide alert helper, you will be
better able to:
- move beyond common tendencies to miss, dismiss or avoid
- identify people who have thoughts of suicide;
- apply the TALK steps (Tell, Ask, Listen and KeepSafe)
to connect a person with suicidal thoughts to suicide first aid,
Powerful video clips illustrate both non-alert and
alert responses. Discussion and practice help stimulate learning.
Learn steps that contribute to saving lives.
These workshops were created by LivingWorks
helping communities become suicide-safer since 1983.
To participate in ASIST™ or SafeTalk™ workshops, or bring the
training to your workplace, call 519-752-2998, ext. 112.
Special Dates and Events -events at
World Suicide Prevention Day, Saturday September
4th Annual Fundraiser for Suicide Awareness,
Friday, November 4, 2011
National Survivors of Suicide Day - Saturday,
November 19, 2011
To the families of the late Justen Bezemer, Greg McLean,
Aaron Cloet, and James Bilodeau
for assisting the Canadian Mental Health Association, Brant County
Branch with suicide prevention initiatives undertaken by the
Mental Health & Suicide Awareness Committee of Brant
Every 10 hours, 1 Ontarian dies by suicide
Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people, second
only to car accidents.
Together, as a community we can make a difference.
Talking openly about suicide helps to save lives.
Support and understanding eases the pain and suffering of the
families that are affected.