Featured Mental health

Supporting families after a suicide attempt

A loved one consoling someone.
Written by Jennifer Palisoc

When a loved has made a suicide attempt, it can be difficult to know what to do and how to help someone in crisis.

To help support family members and friends, experts in Sunnybrook’s Department of Psychiatry have created a new resource booklet: What to do if your loved one has made a suicide attempt.

“While there are various materials for coping after a loved one has died by suicide, this booklet is unique as it provides information for supporters, such as family members and friends, who are coping after an individual has made a suicide attempt,” says Dr. Ari Zaretsky, Sunnybrook’s Psychiatrist-in-Chief.  “It can help supporters manage a very stressful situation with information about suicide, as well as resources. The booklet also reminds them they are not alone and can reach out for support in their communities for themselves and their loved ones.”

Another key message from suicide prevention experts is that the majority of individuals who make a suicide attempt do not end up taking their lives.

“Many people seek help, receive effective treatment, and go on to live meaningful lives,” adds Dr. Zaretsky.

The booklet was also developed with input from members of the Department of Psychiatry’s Patient and Family Committee (PFAC), which includes individuals with lived experience in mental health.

“The insight from our PFAC was incredibly helpful in understanding what topics and supports would be most beneficial to supporters after a loved one’s suicide attempt,” adds Dr. Zaretsky.

The booklet includes warning signs and risk factors for suicide as well as suicide prevention resources, such as the creation of a Coping Card, which can help individuals make a plan for how to manage when they are in crisis.

The booklet is being used in Sunnybrook’s Department of Psychiatry, the Emergency Department, and is available as an online resource on the department website.


Support Booklet: What to do if your loved one has made a suicide attempt

If you need help in an emergency, please call 911 or visit your local emergency department.

If you’re feeling like you’re in crisis or need somebody to talk to, please know that help is also available through community resources:

About the author

Jennifer Palisoc

Jennifer Palisoc is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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