April 13, 2024
PHOTO BY JAKE DAVIDSON Tana Nash, co-ordinator of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, said the best thing to do when someone is thinking of suicide is to be a friend and be there for them.


Every year nearly 4,000 Canadians die by suicide — that is an average of almost 10 suicides a day.
Tana Nash, co-ordinator of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council,0 gave a speech on suicide prevention in the community room of the Zehrs store at 200 Franklin Blvd. in Cambridge.
She hopes her speech helps others understand what a person contemplating suicide is thinking so that more people at risk can get help. She also hopes it removes some of the stigma. Talking to someone or listening to someone who is considering suicide can be the best thing for that person.
“Talking and just listening or just being there for somebody can really help,” said Nash. “Imagine that immense burden of thinking about taking your life and not being able to share that. Then you come along as a friend and say I want to be there for you. Don’t judge them, don’t try and change their mind. Just be there for them.”
If you want to get a person to talk to you about the possibility that they’re considering suicide you can’t skirt around the issue. Make sure you tell someone else and if possible, try to convince them to get help.
There are several options a person who is considering killing themselves can take. They can call a hotline such as Crisis Services of Waterloo Region at 519-744-1813 or the Distress Centre at 519-745-1166, or they can call 911. For more information on the WRSPC go to their website, www.WRPSC.ca, or call 519-744-7645, ext. 310.
A new group called Skills for Safer Living is for people who have had a suicide attempt or those who continue to think about taking their life. It focuses on living by helping people learn coping skills so that they don’t want to kill themselves anymore. You can contact them through the WRSPC. “It’s about retraining our brain,” Nash said.
“It’s about the brain because the brain is constantly saying I don’t want to keep living. It’s almost like retraining the transmitters in our brain to say I do want to keep living.”
Other than counselling, some suggestions for getting better are exercising, connecting with the community, enjoying a pet, enjoying nature, taking up a hobby, setting limits, keeping time for yourself and generally doing things that make you feel good.
There are certain risk factors that make a person more likely to consider suicide. A history of mental illness in the family can be a factor, as can alcohol and drug abuse due to the fact that those things cause people to make rash decisions. A traumatic event or being in a stressful environment such as school can also be a factor.
According to the WRSPC, approximately one in 10 Ontario students have reported that they seriously considered suicide. Some actual signs that a person is suicidal can be sudden changes in mood, sudden disinterest in things that they would normally enjoy greatly, talking about suicide or completely disengaging themselves.
If you notice several sudden changes in a friend or family member you should ask them if they are thinking about suicide. Thoughts of suicide can affect anyone, male, female, young or old. According to Nash people who have a greater responsibility for decisions have a higher possibility of suicidal tendencies along with people in very stressful jobs such as emergency services.
Conestoga College has a counselling department that provides programs including Safe Talk, a three-hour suicide alertness program that teaches you about the warning signs and risk factors and how to get help for anyone considering suicide. If you are interested visit the Conestoga College counselling department, in the Student Life Centre, Room 1A101.