World Suicide Prevention Day aims to spark conversations and inspire hope

September 9, 2022

EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services recognizes September 10 as World Suicide Prevention Day, an initiative which aims to increase awareness, build knowledge, and spark conversations about suicide. World Suicide Prevention Day was created in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). This year’s theme is Creating Hope through Action.

Suicide is an ongoing societal and public health concern and affects people from all socioeconomic, age, gender, cultural, and ethnic groups. It has devastating emotional, financial, and psychological impacts on individuals, families, and communities.

It can be hard to know if someone is thinking about suicide, but recognizing the risk factors and warning signs is important.

Some risk factors include:

Warning signs may include:

It is important to take any mention of suicide seriously, and to get help right away if someone you know is in immediate risk of suicide:

One of the major barriers to help is the stigma around suicide. Stigma contributes to feelings of fear, shame, and guilt. Together, we can help prevent suicide and lower the stigma by talking about suicide with understanding, hope, and compassion.

The words ‘committed, ‘completed’ or ‘successful’ suicide have been used in the past to describe when someone dies by suicide. However, there has been a movement away from using such terms. It is important to emphasize people-first language (someone with suicidal thoughts vs a suicidal person). Using phrases such as death by suicide, died by suicide, or suicide describes what really happened and respects family and friends left behind. See the Language of Suicide.

When talking about suicide, it is important to emphasize support and recovery are possible, and that suicide is a complex issue that is unique for everyone, but help is available.

When thinking about how to help someone, use the REACH Pathway (Recognize, Engage, Ask, Connect and Heal) to help remember what you can do to support someone who is struggling: recognize when someone is struggling, engage in conversation and listen, ask about suicidal thoughts and feelings, connect to support and resources and heal yourself by taking care of your own mental health.

If you or somebody you know is struggling, there are resources to help:

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.