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Suicide: A permanent solution to a temporary problem!
Written by Brandy Joe

What is Suicide?
Suicide is defined as intentional, self-inflicted death.

How many people complete suicide in the world each year?
The World Health Organization projects that one million people will die from suicide in 2009 - a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds.

Suicide in Aboriginal communities
Suicide is a common cause of death in First Nations communities. Over the last 20 years, rates of suicide among Aboriginal people in North America have been consistently higher than the average of the general population and higher still among Aboriginal people in Canada. Studies show that suicide rates across all age groups of Aboriginal people were on average about three times higher than in the non-Aboriginal population.  Adolescents and young adults were at highest risk. Among Aboriginal youth aged 10 to 19 years, the suicide rate was five to six times higher than among their non-Aboriginal peers, and those between 20 and 29 (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) showed the highest rates of suicide.

In First nations communities and as First nations people, we face many hardships and struggles, (e.g. poverty; the loss of our language and culture and therefore the loss or uncertainty of our identity; alcohol and drug abuse; child molestation/sexual abuse; rape, etc.) and although suicide is a  pretty deep, heavy and sensitive subject its an issue that needs to be addressed whether were ready to talk about it or not because we cant just close our eyes and ears to it anymore, suicide hurts families friends and the whole community when one person decides that this life isn’t worth living anymore we are the ones left behind and left with feelings of abandonment we are the ones left with the pain of living the remainder of this life without that person, we are the ones feeling lost and confused just trying to figure out why someone could do that to us, we are the ones crying the everlasting tears that nothing and no one can take away, yes we make it all so personal which might be the reason why a person is pushed to that point in the 1st place, we make it about us when clearly the person who committed suicide or the individual who is on the verge of suicide may have been crying out for our love and attention for quite sometime, but we never see the signs we never see it coming and then we are shocked when it does, all it takes is for someone to listen and for someone to care (truly care) then we can start preventing these tragedies.

Suicide is something that is well known and just a little too common amongst our people. We need to look at this closer and try to help our people find peace in this life rather than having them think that the only way to find peace within themselves is to “rest in peace”. We as a community - not only as communities but as a nation we need to start addressing these problems that we face in our every day lives. We need to look within ourselves come face to face with the things that have hurt us and start the healing process. There are times when suicide seems to be the only thing that your mind will allow you to think about, the moments where you feel hurt, angry, frustrated, lost and scared all at once you can try to think of reasons to live but the moment your stuck in it and it’s so intense and tomorrow or even a minute in the future seems to feel non existent. Reasons for people to get to this moment can be set off by just about anything, feelings of incompetence and failure in life, feelings of loneliness not being able to vent when becoming overwhelmed with life, not having a voice and not being heard, many circumstances can contribute to feelings of suicide, many factors play a part.

Why do people contemplate suicide?
A number of factors may contribute to suicide attempts and/or successful suicides these include:

  • Psycho-biological factors/Mental disorders: mental health problems, anxiety, schizophrenia, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and learning         disabilities. Mental illnesses are disorders of the brain which can be complicated by drugs and alcohol. Thoughts of suicide are also a common symptom of mood disorders
    • Fact: 1 in 5 Canadians has or will develop a mental illness in their lifetime
  • Depression: Depression is a medical condition characterized by long-lasting feelings of intense sadness and hopelessness associated with additional mental and physical changes. Depression affects a person's personal, social, and/or professional life A psychiatric disorder characterized by persistent sadness, low mood, a loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, difficulty in concentration or thinking, loss of energy, fatigue, slowing down, and lethargy or agitation. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, sleep disturbance (insomnia or excessive sleep), loss of sexual interest, and weight loss (See article on the Aq’am CLC site for more information on Depression at http://www.aqam.net/clc/issues/depression).
    • Fact: 80% of suicides are carried out by individuals suffering from a depressive illness
  • Socio economic factors: High rates of poverty (as is the case in most First Nations communities), low levels of education, high unemployment rate, housing problems(illness due to mold, polluted/unsanitary water and all around poor living conditions),  lack of community infrastructure,
  • Life history or situational factors: family problems, abuse, substance abuse, isolation and grief, child molestation/rape, sexual abuse
    • Fact: Studies of Aboriginal people who have committed suicide have found that as many as 90% of victims had alcohol in their blood.
  • Cultural stress: Culture stress was deemed to be particularly significant for Aboriginal people, which includes rapid cultural change, loss of culture, loss of language and urbanization, being adopted outside of the community, growing up through the foster care system
    • Fact: There are a number of First Nations who have been taken from their communities and their families and friends only to return later in life, feeling lost and in desperate need of acceptance or a sense of belonging and identity

Who’s at risk for Suicide?

The following individuals may be more susceptible to having suicidal thoughts/attempts:

  • Residential school survivors
  • Victims of rape or sexual abuse
  • Bully victims
  • Individuals with a form of mood/ psychological disorder
  • Those suffering from depression
  • Those who abuse drugs and alcohol
  • Individuals of a minority group
  • Someone who has just lost a family member or friend through death or suicide
  • Someone who is facing long term incarceration
  • Those experiencing Life crises, traumas or set backs (including difficulties at school, work or in relationships); divorce, death of a loved one, financial difficulties, diagnosis of a terminal illness

What are some of the Suicide warning signs?

  • Unbearable feelings- depression can cause extreme feelings of hopelessness, despair and self doubt.  The more acute the feelings the higher the suicide risk
  • Putting affairs in order- making final plans, giving away personal belongings
  • Visiting family and friends, finalizing a will or writing a suicide note
  • Rehearsing suicide- seriously discussing one or more specific suicide methods, purchasing weapons and collecting large quantities of medication or rationalizing suicide as a viable option.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse- intoxication may cause impulsive behaviour and make the person more likely to act on suicidal thoughts.
  • Isolation- cutting off friendships and social connections.
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Fire arms in the home
  • The recent suicide of a relative, friend, co-worker or classmate.
  • Loss of interest, or pleasure in usual things
  • Risky or self-destructive behaviour
  • Sudden calmness

What are some Suicidal thoughts?

  • Cant stop the pain
  • Cant think clearly
  • Cant make decisions
  • Cant see any way out
  • Cant sleep, eat or work
  • Cant get out of depression
  • Cant make the sadness go away
  • Cant see a future without pain
  • Cant see themselves as worthwhile
  • Cant get anyone’s attention
  • Cant seem to get control

Suicide Prevention and Intervention
Get help if you’re feeling suicidal - Call the doctor/police or someone you love and trust.

Suicide is not the only way out!

Let your loved ones know you love them, remind them through your words and your actions, and most importantly, love yourself!!!!

For persons considering suicide, immediate assistance is available by calling:
Suicide Prevention Hotline PROVINCE WIDE:
Phone:  1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
Hours:  24 hours

Cranbrook Crisis Line (Also serving the entire east Kootenay region from Golden to the Alberta and USA borders through a 1-800 number)
Phone:  (250) 426-8407
Toll Free:  1-800-667-8407
Hours:  24 hours


Infofacts on Suicide