girl wearing backpack sits on a forest pathIn life, there are a lot of difficult conversations that need to be had. Sharing news of an illness or death, ending a long-term relationship, talking to your children about the facts of life, or confronting someone that you believe is thinking about suicide. None of these discussions are easy. However, each is important as they all have a huge impact.

September 10th is Suicide Prevention Day. World Suicide Prevention Day is about awareness and provides the opportunity to talk about a subject that has long been marred by stigma and taboo. It is also about hope. Far too many lives are affected by suicide and even one suicide is one too many. Prevention and talking openly and honestly about suicide are key.

For someone thinking of suicide, they need to seek help. Whether through a health professional, spiritual care, family or friends. There are crisis lines* available in most communities.

There are recognized warning signs:

IS PATH WARM Acronym Suicide Warning Signs

Source: Acronym created by the American Association of Suicidology.

If you believe that someone you know is contemplating suicide, the best thing to do is to ask. And ask directly. Inviting someone to talk when they are having thoughts of suicide is simple. All you have to do is listen. Empathy and compassion are powerful healers. Talking is the main intervention tool and may help to keep thoughts from becoming actions. It may help someone to make a choice to live.

Threads of Life family members have all experienced a devastating tragedy. Research has shown that left in isolation without support, people have greater risk of substance abuse, marital breakdown, psychiatric issues and suicide. Our family support program exists to help connect family members so that they do not feel alone. While we do not provide crisis counseling, our Volunteer Family Guides are able to listen and to provide links in the community to other services. One of our core values is listening. Because having someone listen, truly listen, can ease pain and suffering.

Through talking about suicide others may learn or start to think about other life options. By providing a compassionate ear, you just might save a life. Reach out and start a conversation at your dinner table tonight. It could be one of the most important ones you ever have.

* The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention provides a list and links to crisis centres across Canada.