Men’s Health A-Z



Suicide: Understanding Suicide

Know the Facts

Suicide is one of the most common causes of premature death for men in Canada. Although it’s not easy to talk about or even think about, it is very important to understand it. The possibility that suicide could claim the life of someone you know cannot be ignored.

Why Do People Do It?

A huge variety of life circumstances can contribute to a person’s suicidal thoughts or feelings. However, all people who consider suicide feel that life is unbearable. Their sense of helplessness and hopelessness is extreme.

People who talk about committing suicide (or even make an attempt) do not necessarily want to die. Rather, they are reaching out for help. Sometimes a suicide attempt can be the turning point in a person’s life—if they receive the help and support they need.

Who is at Risk?

Know the Risk Factors

People who are most likely to commit suicide may:

  • Have a serious physical or mental illness
  • Suffer from depression
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Have experienced a major loss, such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job or divorce
  • Be experiencing major life changes
  • Have made previous suicide threats
What Should You Watch Out For?

Watch for the Danger Signs

The warning signs that a person may be suicidal include:

  • Making remarks about death, dying or suicide (these should be taken very seriously)
  • Repeated expressions of hopelessness, helplessness or desperation
  • Out-of-character behaviour
  • A sudden attitude change
  • Signs of depression, including sleeplessness, social withdrawal, loss of appetite or loss of interest in usual activities
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Making preparations for death such as taking out insurance, writing a will or talking about final wishes

If You Are Feeling Suicidal Find Help and Support

If you are having thoughts or feelings of suicide, know that there is a way out. The first step is to let someone else in. Even though it will not be easy, find someone to speak with about your feelings. The person can be a friend, relative, social worker or clergy member. You are not alone—many people have felt the same way. There are many ways you can get support and find a way to cope with the way you are feeling.

What Can You Do?

Preventing a Suicide Attempt

If you are concerned that someone in your life may be suicidal, do not ignore the situation. Have a conversation with the person. Since this type of talk is usually not easy or comfortable, here are some strategies:

  • Make sure you listen without judgement. It is important that the person feels heard and able to express themselves freely.
  • Be honest about your concern for the person.
  • Find out whether the person has a specific plan for a suicide attempt. 
  • If possible, go with the person to get help. Then, stay in touch with the person to see how they are doing.

Recognize that no matter what you do, it is still possible that the person is intent on dying. You may not be able to prevent it. If that is the case, you cannot and should not carry the responsibility for what someone else has chosen to do.

Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about suicide prevention, support, and resources in your area.

After a Suicide Attempt

If you come into contact with someone who has attempted suicide, assist the person in finding professional medical help right away. The time following a suicide attempt is crucial. The person needs to have intensive care during this time.