Suicidal Ideation


Patterns of communication and unresolved conflict.

***If you or someone you know has threatened or is at risk for suicidal behaviours/attempts, please call 1-800-SUICIDE for immediate assistance OR visit your local emergency room. ***

For some people, living with a mental or physical health condition, experiencing a tragic loss of a person, job, or end of relationship, or any other source of trauma, could lead to feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, or helplessness. Perhaps the will to live and continue trying becomes absent or they just give up. Whatever the specific reason, all threats and suicidal thoughts (suicidal ideation) must be taken seriously. Assistance is available in such situations. Lives can be saved; there is hope.

What to Watch For

There is no one specific cause of suicidal ideation nor can anyone be certain someone is going to attempt suicide. One person might have had persistent thoughts of ending their life for many months but never attempted suicide; on the other hand, another person might have had an intense experience and committed suicide shortly thereafter. Illness, family history, loss, grief, abuse, addiction, rejection are just a few possibilities of what might underlie suicidal ideation.

Suicide Risk Factors

What we can all do is learn how to make an assessment of the risk of suicidal behaviour:

  • Does the individual have a history of threatening to kill or hurt him/herself?
  • Does the individual have a well formed and laid out plan?
  • Does the person know the specifics of the attempt? Ie the time, day, location, what he/she will wear or take with them, etc.
  • Does the person have reliable access to the means (drugs, knife, rope, gun, etc.) part of his or her plan for suicide?

If responses to the above are all within a high or extreme level, please seek medical assistance for the person as soon as possible. Contacting a Crisis Line (604 279 7070) or Suicide Support Help Line (1 800 SUICIDE) is another helpful option.
If the responses to the above assessment indicate a low or medium risk, there is opportunity to seek treatment and support that might help to prevent future attempts and build skills to cope with feelings of hopelessness and isolation that are present and harmful for the person right now.


For individuals who are actively suicidal or at imminent risk for suicidal behaviour, it is extremely important to receive medical and psychological assistance and support immediately. When suicidal thoughts and behaviours are chronic and not acted upon immediately, counselling can help. A counsellor will assist in developing safer ways to cope with intense emotions and relocate motivation to live and purpose for life.
If you have been affected by the suicide or suicide attempt of a loved one or friend, making an appointment to see a therapist to help cope with troublesome emotions is highly recommended.


Canadian Mental Health Association. (2018). Suicide – facts and figures.

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