When bad things happen or when people get too depressed, some think about suicide to get rid of the pain, shame, or deep sadness that they feel. Most people who seriously consider suicide do not want to die—they see suicide a solution to a problem and a way to end their pain.

There are many reasons why a person may think about suicide:

  • Feeling alone or isolated
  • Having experience of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
  • Being bullied or beaten up.
  • Having a terminal illness.
  • Living through a very troubling event.
  • Losing a loved one or close friend.
  • Having a serious relationship problem or breaking up.
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, and worthless—overwhelmed with a sense of personal failure.
  • Believing nothing can solve a particular problem.

Many people who seriously consider suicide may have one or more of the following risks:

  • A personal or family history of suicide attempts or completed suicide
  • A person or family history of severe anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia 
  • An alcohol or drug addiction
  • Severe experience with bullying—either as the target or bully.

The possibility of suicide is most serious when a person:

  • Has a way to do it—such as a weapon or pills.
  • Has set a time and place to do it.
  • Thinks there is no other way to solve the problem or end the pain.

Some of the signs to look for

Often there is seemingly no warning sign that a person is thinking of suicide. Other times a person may say or do something that signals they are thinking about suicide. It is important to watch for these signals and take them seriously:

  • Unusual and strange behaviour
  • Making statements about death or suicide such as, "I want to die".
  • Talking about suicide or wanting to die or disappear—even in a joking manner.
  • Thinking others would be better off without them.
  • Increased alcohol or drug use .
  • Increased risky behaviours and dangerous activities.
  • Interest in giving away important belongings.
  • Disinterest in favourite activities.
  • Disinterest in spending time with people they care about.
  • Struggling to deal with problems at work or home.
  • Increased anxiety, restlessness, and irritability.
  • Trying to complete suicide (attempting suicide).

If you think a person is thinking of suicide, ask "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" or "Are you having thoughts of suicide?". If they say yes:

  • Ask them if they’d like to talk.  Then take time to listen.  If they don’t want to talk to you, ask if there’s someone else they’d like to speak with, and then connect them to that person.  If you don’t have time or capacity to to listen, connect them with someone who does.
  • Talk to the person and encourage them to get help. Say things such as' "I'm Sorry", Let's keep you safe", or "How can I help?".
  • Give them a helpline or emergency number.
  • Make a list of other supports available in your community.
  • Be there to listen: provide compassion to help ease their pain.
  • Do not leave a person with thoughts of suicide alone.  Seek additional help.

Asking a person about their thoughts of suicide does not give them the idea, but rather shows that you care for their wellbeing.

Getting Help

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, talk to a health care provider or bring them directly to the health centre. If the risk of suicide is immediate, call the RCMP.

A person thinking of suicide may choose to talk to a friend, family member, or someone else they trust—teacher, coach, mentor, counsellor, or Elder.

Talk with the person you think is considering or has tried suicide. Talking about it does NOT lead to suicide. 

For anonymous support, call the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line.

  • Available 24 hours a day
  • 867-979-3333 or toll free at 1-800-265-3333

Contact the Isaksimagit Inuusirmi Kataujjiqatigiit (Embrace Life Council)

Other Helplines and chat resources include:

  • Kids Help Phone: Call 1-800-668-6868 or text ‘TALK’ to 686868
  • Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-877-209-1266
  • Use the online chat, or send a text message to 778-783-0177
  • Crisis Services Canada: Use the online chat, call, or send a text to 1-833-456-4566

Here are two videos [YouTube links] that encourage people to talk about suicide.

  • One Video dispels many of the myths and stigmas associated with suicide.
  • The Other Video shows the importance of talking—not living in silence. It shows one person reflecting on how suicide has touched them—how we can make a difference if we walk and listen to others.