Suicide: risks and prevention

Learn about the factors that can increase the risk for suicide and what helps to prevent it.

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Factors that increase the risk of suicide

No single cause can explain or predict suicide. Thoughts of suicide or suicide-related behaviours are a result of a combination of personal, social and cultural factors. The presence of these factors is different from person to person over their lifetime.

Factors that may increase the risk of suicide include:

  • a prior suicide attempt
  • mental illness like depression
  • a sense of hopelessness or helplessness
    • this means that you believe your life or current situation won’t improve
  • misuse of alcohol or substances
  • chronic (long-term) physical pain or illness
  • trauma, for example:
    • violence
    • victimization, like bullying
    • childhood abuse or neglect
    • suicide by a family member or friend
    • events that affect multiple generations of your family

Other factors that can increase the risk of suicide include:

  • significant loss, including:
    • personal (relationships)
    • social
    • cultural
    • financial (job loss)
  • major life changes or stressors, such as:
    • unemployment
    • homelessness
    • poor physical health or physical illness
    • the death of a loved one
    • harassment
    • discrimination
  • lack of access to or availability of mental health services
  • personal identity struggles (sexual, cultural)
  • lack of support from family, friends or your community
  • sense of isolation

What helps to prevent suicide

There are a number of things that can help to guard against suicide, including:

  • positive mental health and well-being
  • a sense of hope, purpose, belonging and meaning
  • social support
  • healthy self-esteem and confidence in yourself
  • asking for help if you’re having thoughts of suicide
  • a sense of belonging and connectedness with your:
    • family
    • friends
    • culture
    • community

Other ways to help protect against risk of suicide include:

  • a strong identity (personal, sexual, cultural)
  • access to appropriate mental health services and support
  • good coping and problems-solving skills, and the ability to adapt to change and new situations
  • supportive environments where you’re accepted and valued (school, workplace, community)
  • positive relationships (peers, family, partner)

If you’re struggling with your mental health or are worried about someone, you’re not alone. Get help now.

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