18 September 2016

Warning Signs of Suicide

Suicide is the tenth highest reason for death amongst Canadians, according to Statistics Canada. The highest rate of suicide is amongst Canadian adults aged 40-54, with about 17 suicides per 100,000. 

That number may be a surprise to some, because we focus so much on preventing suicide amongst teenagers. And the focus is understandable; we expect our youths to live long full lives. Suicide is the second cause of death for those aged 15-19, but at a rate of 9, nearly half of our middle-aged Canadians.

While it is important to be aware of the signs of suicide, it is not just applicable to teenagers, but for all Canadians.

The new acronym that Mental Health Clinicians are using as a tool to assess for suicide is: “IS PATH WARM.”

Let’s look at what each letter stands for:

Ideation – Warning signs that are being communicated about the idea of suicide by threating to hurt/take own life, looking for ways to hurt/kill self, or talking or writing about it.

Substance Use – An increase use, or excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol.

Purposelessness – Losing the sense of purpose or reason for living.

Anxiety – The anxiety, or agitation, begins to interfere in daily life, such as being unable to fall or stay asleep.

Trapped – Feeling stuck and that there is no way out.

Hopelessness – A loss of hope for the future

Withdrawal – Withdrawing from friends, family, and usual activities.

Anger – Uncontrollable anger, rage and/or revenge.

Recklessness – Participating in life-risky activities without thinking

Mood Changes – Increased, unexplained dramatic changes in mood.

Discussing suicide is heavy and discouraging. It is important to listen and respond with empathy.

Recently the author of Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton, tackled the topic of suicide with a message of hope: “Pain comes and goes like clouds. Love is the Sun. If you’re struggling right now, tell the monster to shut the hell up and listen to me for a minute: You are loved.

“No matter who you’ve hurt, you deserve forgiveness and you belong to us. There is a place for you here that was created for you before the world began that no one else on Earth can fill.

“You are a child of God and everything you have ever been or are or will become has already been approved. Please, please stay. Stay. First the pain, then the rising. You must stay for the rising.”


If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, visit suicideprevention.ca to find help or support.

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