Suicidal or self-harm

  • Do you feel suicidal, as if life is no longer worth living?
  • Do you attempt to mutilate or damage your body to cope with painful emotions?

Much self harm is not related to suicide. You may engage in cutting or hurting yourself as a way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger or frustration. It may feel temporarily calming but is followed by guilt or shame and never resolves any underlying problems.

Suicide and self-harm are on a continuum. The mildest forms of suicidal feelings are passive wishes that you will just simply disappear or that you will be the victim of a fatal accident. Hopefully, things stop here, but sometimes they evolve into active thoughts about how you might take your life. Finally, you may even make preparations by hoarding pills or making a plan. At the extreme, you may make an attempt to end your life. Suicidal feelings don’t mean that you need to die – it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. You may have lost hope and feel that you are a burden, but your death would leave a lasting legacy of guilt and despair.

There is effective treatment available for all of the causes of suicidal thoughts.

For families or friends, it’s important to know that asking about suicidal thoughts does not make a person worse. Sharing painful thoughts and emotions with someone who cares and does not criticize can provide enormous relief, and be the first step to accepting help.

If at this moment (or any moment), you feel that there is a serious risk that you might end your life, you can get help immediately. You can go to an emergency room at the closest hospital, you can call a distress centre in your area. In Ontario, you can contact connexontario.ca or phone 1 866 531 2600.

  • Each person with suicidal thoughts or engaging in self-harm has unique characteristics and should be thoroughly assessed.
  • Every individual with suicidal thoughts or engaging in self-harm would benefit from connecting with a skilled psychotherapist.