Suicide Prevention

Prevention is the umbrella in working toward reducing deaths by suicide; increasing awareness, eliminating stigma, knowing what to do in the event that you or someone you know experiences thoughts or behaviours associated with suicide. It’s having the skills, awareness, before someone is in crisis. In preventing suicide, intervention and postvention are components toward the goal of reducing suicides.

Who is at Risk of Dying by Suicide?

Older adults are at higher risk due to life changes and transitions through loss, lifestyle changes due to physical disability, a move from independent living to assisted living and social isolation and abuse. Warning signs: appetite changes, lack of participation in social events, signs of abuse and neglect.

Young people are at higher risk due to family and school pressures, major life changes, hormone changes, bullying and sexual orientation issues.Warning signs: eating disorders, deliberate self-harm, withdrawal from normal activities, exceptional and extreme mood swings, perfectionist behaviour or extreme self-critical behaviour

People who have recently had a major loss or life change are at higher risk, as grief can change to depression that may last several weeks or longer.Warning signs: major changes in attitude, changes in eating or sleeping habits, loss of energy or loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed.

Especially vulnerable are people who are recovering from an episode of depression or who have a history of suicide attempts, or who have just been released from the hospital. [1]

Facts and Stats


  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for 10-19 year olds and the 9th leading cause of death in Canada.
  • An average of 10 people die by suicide each day in Canada.
  • Of the approximate 4,000 deaths by suicide per year, 90% were living with a mental health problem or illness.


  • In 2017, in Alberta, there were 637 suicidal deaths, a 25% increase from 2012.
  • The suicide rate in Alberta went up by 30% in 2015 in the wake of mass oil patch layoffs.
  • Females accounted for 58% of the hospital admissions and 61% of the emergency department visits for attempted suicide/self-inflicted injuries.

Aboriginal Communities

  • Suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the leading causes of death for First Nations youth and adults up to 44 years of age.
  • Approximately 55% of all Aboriginal people are under 25 years of age.
  • The suicide rate for First Nations male youth (age 15-24) is 126 per 100,000 compared to 24 per 100,000 for non-Aboriginal male youth.
  • For First Nations females, the suicide rate is 35 per 100,000 compared to 5 per 100,000 for non-Aboriginal females (Health Canada, 2010).
  • Suicide rates for Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national average. [2]

What Does It Look Like?

Those who are at risk may show these warning signs of suicide. They may:

  • Making suicidal statements.
  • Being preoccupied with death in conversation, writing, or drawing.
  • Giving away belongings.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Having aggressive or hostile behaviour
  • Neglecting personal appearance.
  • Running away from home.
  • Risk-taking behaviour, such as reckless driving or being sexually promiscuous.
  • A change in personality (such as from upbeat to quiet). [3]





  1. Mood Disorders of Ontario. Frequently Asked Questions – Suicide. Retrieved from
  2. Centre for Suicide Prevention. (2013). Suicide Prevention Primer: Facts and Myths. Retrieved from
  3. Health Link BC. (2017). Warning Signs of Suicide. Retrieved from