POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 49 • Financial difficulties • Rejection by society for some personal trait, such as ethnic origin or sexual orientation. What these factors have is common is that they are situations over which the individual feels no sense of control. They cause unbearable psychological pain that the individual feels will never end. Contributing factors These are the factors that make the individual even more vulnerable to suicidal behaviour. They can include: • Physical illness • Sexual identity issues • An unstable family environment • Risk-taking or self-destructive behaviour • The suicide of a friend • Isolation • Substance abuse. Protective factors These factors help to decrease the risk of suicide. They include: • A resilient personality • Tolerance for frustration • Self control • Good social supports • A sense of humour • At least one good relationship. Symptoms of Suicidal Behaviour More suicides could be prevented if people were aware of the warning signs for suicidal behaviour. People considering suicide often show one or more of these signs of distress. They may: • Repeatedly express that they feel hopeless, helpless or desperate, although many will not talk about it at all; • Experience a change in sleep patterns; • Lose their appetite or have no energy; • Make negative comments about themselves; • Lose interest in things they used to enjoy, such as friends, hobbies or sports; • Give away prize possessions and take other actions to put their affairs in order; • Express their final wishes to someone or talk about their suicidal thoughts, although again, many will not talk about it at all; • Have a plan as to how they will commit suicide, even giving the time and place. Minimizing The Risk If you or someone close to you shows some of these warning signs for suicide, here are steps you can take to help: • Most communities in Canada have access to a Crisis/Distress line staffed by people with experience in helping those considering suicide. Their telephone numbers are usually prominently displayed in the first few pages of the telephone directory. Call them for advice and referrals. • Help remove the stigma associated with suicide by talking openly and frankly with someone about suicidal feelings. Show interest and support. Blaming someone for their negative feelings or telling them to “pull themselves together” doesn’t help and may further isolate the individual by discouraging them to share thoughts or look for help. • Get professional help from your family doctor or a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist. They can make a difference. If a friend or family member is suicidal, it can be helpful to offer to go with them. SUICIDE PREVENTION ►