On September 10th, people around the globe observe World Suicide Prevention Day. One of the main lessons I take from the stories shared is that if you need it, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.

It can be nerve wracking to show the kind of vulnerability needed to admit that you need help, but being vulnerable is not the same as being weak. In reality, asking for help shows bravery, maturity, and strength. Being self aware enough to recognize that you need help and then knowing how to ask for it is no simple feat, and at times it’s a necessary one.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2013 (the most recent year they have data for) over 4,000 Canadians took their own lives, and for every death by suicide, there are an estimated 20 suicide attempts. Additionally, there are many people who consider taking their lives who do not act on those thoughts.

It's hard to know the exact number, but clearly there are many people grappling with suicidal thoughts, and unfortunately not all of them reach out for help.  

Whatever it might be that you’re struggling with, remember that your loved ones care about you and want you to be happy and healthy. Instinctively, they already want to help you, sometimes they just don’t recognize that you need help or they don't know how to help.

For this reason, being direct is important. If you skirt around asking a question and use “if”s and “could”s, your friend may not understand what it is that you’re asking for. Then not only do you not get the help you were hoping for, you could end up feeling discouraged and might be less likely to ask again.

Even if you’re not sure exactly what you need, you can still be specific. Tell your loved one how you’re feeling and tell them that you think you need help but aren’t sure what kind. You’ll feel better for having gotten it off your chest and sharing it with someone you trust, and based on what you tell your friend, they may have some ideas of their own or can help you figure out what might be the best course of action for you.

This is extremely important if you’re contemplating suicide, but it still holds true if you’re struggling in other ways. We all have hardships to overcome, and while lots of us are happy to try to work through them on our own, everyone needs someone to lean on sometimes. There shouldn't be any kind of stigma surrounding the desire for help when you're going through a tough time. 

If you broke your leg and were on crutches, you probably wouldn’t hesitate to ask a friend to help you out with some things around the house that are difficult to accomplish on one leg, and we should approach asking for help when we’re having a difficult time mentally in the same, guilt-free way.

You have people around who want to help, just let them know that you’re open to it and how they can help. You’ll all be happier for it.

If you are having suicidal thoughts and want to reach out to people trained to help, use this link to find the phone number for your province.

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