We are not responsible for the decisions that someone else makes. However, we are often in the best position to recognize and initiate the first response to someone experiencing a suicidal crisis. Some suicides (20%) occur without any warning and others occur despite the very caring responses of friends, family and helping professionals. Suicide is ultimately a personal choice – it is not our job to ‘save’ someone else’s life, only to offer them other options.
Some attitudes to look for
Depression: Nothing seems important anymore. Life’s a bad joke.
Hopelessness/helplessness: There is nothing I can do to change this.
Purposelessness: There is nothing to live for; there is no point to anything.
Worthlessness: I can’t do anything right. No one cares if I live or die.
Overwhelmed: I can’t stand this anymore. This is way too much for me.
Intense worry/anxiety: Everything is falling apart. Everyone is going to be disappointed in me.
Recklessness/impulsiveness: I don’t care if I break my neck.
Elation: Everything is perfect now! (suddenly, after someone has been in a lot of distress)
Some significant losses to look for
Death of a loved one, especially by suicide
A key relationship unraveling or ending
Instability/turmoil at home/in one’s family
A severe change in social status or sense of belonging
Unemployment, loss of a highly valued ability or activity
Fear of disciplinary action/incarceration/physical violence
Trauma from sexual or other assault
Trauma from serious illness or injury
Major financial/economic loss
Understanding and Recognizing When someone may be Suicidal
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 18 / Vancouver Fire Rescue Services