"I want everyone to know that there is hope. We can't run out of hope, or we're just going to die, right. But I want the governments to know, we have to do something ... you can come and speak to us locals, and we can work with each other and figure it out together, because we can't do it alone anymore. So we need their help."
That statement above is made by Jennifer Watkins, president of the National Inuit Youth Council, on the occasion of today’s celebration of the World Suicide Prevention Day. Health Canada reported that national suicide rate for Inuit is 135 per 100,000 people, as compared with 12 per 100,000 for Canada overall. While it is of course alarming that a lot of young Inuits have the highest incidents of suicide in the country, we also have to consider the fact that many people today all over the world consider suicide as a valid option – hope simply runs out.
Most of those in the counseling profession agree that the common link among people who kill themselves is the belief that suicide is the only solution to overwhelming feelings of desperation and depression. Suicide is seen as the only available pathway to take. But the real tragedy of suicide is that these intense negative emotions stop people from seeing that in fact there are solutions.
In Canada, there are roughly 3,500 suicides every year, slightly below deaths due to cancers of the colon and breast. Suicide is the seventh-most common cause of death among Canadian males, and tenth-highest among both sexes combined. Today, suicide prevention in Canada is a major program that contains several interventions such as lethal means reduction; risk assessment; respect of self-esteem; group psychotherapy strategy; basic personal rights; self-soothing; interpersonal boundaries; distraction tactics; problem-solving strategies; and support groups.
So, where does counseling come in? It is both a preventive measure and a post-attempt intervention.
As a preventive measure, counseling provides a person with enough reason to hope before suicide becomes a clear option. Counseling addresses several preventive concerns such as self-soothing, problem-solving techniques, support groups, self-esteem building; and even risk assessment. Oftentimes, a client comes to counseling thinking that he or she couldn’t find a solution to his or her problem; but the person is still hopeful that such a solution exists. That is why hope is an essential element here. Without hope, a person sees counseling as useless and irrelevant.
As a post-attempt intervention, counseling is given to those people who attempted to commit suicide but was able to survive. Some people fall into the category of parasuicide – when the attempt was simply designed to catch attention but not to kill the self. What counseling provides is an opportunity to assess that incident and identify contributing factors. Also, counselors help the client experience a renewed sense of hope and a clearer understanding of his or her problems.
Either way, counseling is seen as one of the most effective interventions to reduce suicide incidents.