Each mind is its own universe: complex and infinite. Sometimes we find ourselves suffering or falling down an abyss we might not know how to climb out of. Understanding the source and warning signs of suicide can save lives.

Based on 2012 statistics, Canada’s suicide rate is 11.3 per 100,000 population. This has remained relatively constant throughout the last couple of years, rising to 12.3 per 100, 000 population in 2015. In 2016, the BBC reported that suicide rates among young girls had increased.

Suicide does not discriminate, and it can affect almost anyone. A person who takes or attempts to take their own life has been brewing in intense feelings of despair for some time.

Mental health

The first step toward suicide prevention and awareness is understanding the complexities of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental ailments such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that can contribute to a person’s downward spiral.

Depression. This is a complex disorder that affects many aspects of life and where in a person feels hopeless and worthless. It can affect a person’s ability to concentrate, sleep, perform daily functions, and a loss of motivation. It also affects the body physically by disrupting appetite, chemicals in the brain and the immune system.

CBC News reported that depression, especially in young people, can often be a type of invisible illness, whose symptoms can be easily overlooked. For example, places like Canada that have long winters can see a high number of SAD sufferers.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 2 to 3 per cent of the general public will suffer with these severe winter blues. Many people who feel a dip in their energy levels experience a deficit of motivation. A lack of sunshine can affect people’s brain chemistry and mood.

Using treatment methods like a light box can reduce the sad feelings by simulating sunshine and providing necessary UV rays. People can also prepare for winter by brightening their homes with therapeutic colors or plants.

Signs. So, when is it normal sadness or winter blues, and when is it time to seek help? The telltale signs of deep depression include a combination of various symptoms. People with depression struggle to smile, get out of bed, or participate in activities they were fond of before.

Some definite signs to look for include:

● Becoming withdrawn from friends and families
● Unpredictable mood swings
● The increase of persistence of uncontrollable crying spells
● Constantly thinking about dying and visualizing it
● Recurring thoughts that there is no reason to live
● Feeling worthless and hurting yourself in different ways

When any of the above linger and last more than two months, it might be a good indicator of a depressive episode. Whether you are experiencing these symptoms, or you see them in someone else, it might be time to seek help.

Resistance. Lifestyle can have a tremendous impact on a person’s susceptibility to suffer from depression. There are a few general lifestyle tips that can fortify people’s defenses against depression. Exercising can help the chemical imbalance in the brain. A healthy diet is necessary for nutrients and providing the body the energy boost it needs.

How to help yourself or a loved one

Psychology Today has a few suggestions to cope and help those with depression. These include having a hope box. This refers to a place or actual box that holds objects or thoughts that can help you or that person get through a dark time. Having an escape plan beforehand can help save a life. Find an activity or someone you can call when things seem to be pushing you to the edge. Look into suicide hotlines and prevention centers that offer counselling and therapy to those on the brink or speak to your doctor about other treatment options.

All life is sacred and has innate worth and value. And while depression is often hard to comprehend, it can grip anyone and wreak havoc on their lives and the lives of their family. Know the signs and stay vigilant. You might just rescue someone from the abyss.

If you, or anyone you know may need help, please contact:

Centre For Suicide Prevention: 403-245-3900

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: 613-702-4446

Distress Centre Crisis Line: 403-266-HELP (4357)

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Women of Nations: 651-222-5836

Trans Life Line: 877-330-6366

YouthSpace: 778-783-0177 (Text)

Author Profile

Melissa Howard
Melissa Howard
Suicide prevention advocate for stop suicide.