Can we talk about suicide?

Updated: Aug 30

So…can we talk about suicide?


Yes we can, and we should.


If you are having thoughts of suicide – talk about it with someone you trust.


If someone you know has had a change in demeanor and is saying things that are concerning, you should talk about it.


If the pressures of film and production work, compounded by the challenges of COVID safety protocols, have created what seems like unbearable stress for some – we all should be talking about it.


We should be talking about it because we’ve lost Sisters and Brothers, and Kin in the Motion Picture industry to suicide – here in BC, in Canada, and beyond. Suicides among our members was one of the key motivators behind the founding of the Calltime Mental Health campaign – why your peers and union leaders knew it was time to get messages of hope, help, and resources out to you, their members….to reduce stigma, to reduce shame, to reduce deaths from suicide and overdoses, and to reduce the isolation experienced by those with mental health concerns.


Why suicide?

While there will be many reasons why someone develops suicidal thoughts, there are three personal experiences that can lead to these thoughts, and three social risk factors:


3 I’s of Suicide

  • Physical or emotional pain that is experienced as Intolerable, that has become unbearably distressing;

  • A life situation perceived as Interminable, meaning it is seen as continuing unchanged and without hope of ending;

  • A life situation that is perceived as Inescapable, when someone believes anything they have or will try will not change things or make a significant difference.

3 Social Risk Factors

  • Belief one is alone; prevented from being part of peer/work group or family through loss of work, an injury, or other restriction (Thwarted belongingness)

  • Believing you are a burden to others (Perceived burdensomeness)

  • Having a method or means available, and having developed a mindset and view that suicide is an option. (Capability for suicide).


Do these sound familiar for yourself, or someone you know? Then it’s time to talk…


What you can do

Even if your situation seems dire, or hopeless – there is help that can and will make a difference. People who have considered suicide say that what made all the difference in choosing life was having someone to share their pain, fears, and struggles with, who listened with warmth and non-judgement.


If you know someone who is struggling you can be that safe and non-judgmental help.

That is why we can talk about suicide – and here’s how:


What You Can Do for Yourself

  1. Call the 24/7 Crisis Support Line (1-800-784-2433) or the Mental Health Support Line at 310-6789. They’re trained to listen and help

  2. Call your union’s Member/Employee Assistance Program 24/7 Care Centre (see “resources section” section of this website)

  3. Open up and talk about it – find support among your family, friends and community

  4. Don’t isolate – take even a small step to getting out and connecting with others

  5. Talk to your GP or a doctor at a walk in clinic. Your doctor can refer you to counselling services, provide medical treatment and connect you with community resources

  6. Book regular appointments with a counsellor or mental health professional

  7. Stay connected with someone you trust to talk often about how you are feeling

  8. Avoid making major decisions which you may later regret


What You Can Do to Help Others

  1. Do not ignore the signs; trust your judgment

  2. If you are worried about someone else, it is important to talk about suicide. Talking about suicide will not give them ideas. You need to talk about it to figure out how you can help.

  3. Start by asking the other person if they want to end their life soon and if they have a plan.

  4. Do listen, be sympathetic and let the person know that they are important to you

  5. Ask if the person made suicide PLANS, has the MEANS and decided WHEN to take their own life. If suicide looks imminent contact 911 or crisis line. Do no leave a suicidal person alone

  6. DON’T judge, argue, act shocked or offer solutions to the person’s problems

  7. Don’t promise confidentiality; you may need to involve mental health professionals or emergency services

  8. Call a Crisis Line to speak on behalf of your friend or colleague. Crisis Line Responders are trained to speak to the third-party, should you have concerns about assessing risk and providing support yourself

  9. Contribute to a union and workplace culture where looking for help is demonstrated and encouraged


What you Can Do as a Studio, Production or Union Leader

  1. Create a workplace culture where looking for mental health help is encouraged

  2. Foster trusting relationships between employees, departments, and supervisors

  3. Promote Calltime Mental Health and Member/Employee Assistance Programs that support mental health

  4. In light of the long hours and unique stresses of film work, create, enforce and follow protocols and practices that protect your people’s physical and mental health and safety

  5. Plan and implement suicide prevention awareness and training

  6. Combat stigma around mental health and suicide by raising awareness and speaking openly and respectfully about mental health and suicide.


For additional support call your union’s Member/Employee Assistance Program and there is also a useful resource called, “Coping with Suicidal Thoughts” available here, as well as a resource for helpers to “Learn about Suicide”.


You may feel alone and overwhelmed, but you are not alone. Once call, one conversation, can make all the difference. You matter to us; your Union Sisters, Brothers, and Kin.

 

If you or someone you know is thinking of dying by suicide get help immediately.

Call 911 or BC Crisis Centre 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE)

Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)