Centre for Suicide Prevention was featured in the July 2020 edition of Alberta College of Pharmacy’s newsletter, as part of a piece about what a pharmacist can do to help prevent suicide.
Everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide and there are a few things that pharmacists can do in particular.
They can pick up on specific warning signs:
- A change in behaviour. If they’re coming in all the time, and then they’re not coming in, or the reverse.
- A change in outlook. If they’re typically a positive person, then they seem down all the time, or the reverse.
- Fatalistic comments. If they say, “I won’t be seeing you again.” Mara explains that this is an invitation to pause and ask, “Are you going on holidays?” or “What do you mean I’m not going to see you again? Are you moving?”
They can also ask their patient if they know what medication is in their house, if is it locked, and if there are any young people who could access it.
Pharmacists who are worried about a patient can call 911, but they can also instead connect that patient to social supports.
Pharmacists are also in a unique position to help someone, as, according to Mara Grunau, executive director at the Centre for Suicide Prevention, “People in crisis don’t typically walk into a counselling site. People want to talk to someone in their world, someone they see on a regular basis. Most people need encouragement to get to a mental health professional, so it’s important to train and educate the general community.”