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A free online accredited CPD program for healthcare professionals

Suicide: Facing the Difficult Topic Together – Empowering Physicians, Instilling Hope in Patients

2.00 Mainpro+ Credit(s)

Program available online until: May 30, 2018

This Self-Learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 2.00 Mainpro+ Credit(s).

Physicians’ Role in Suicide Prevention


Family physicians play a pivotal role in preventing suicides in Canada. As gatekeepers, they are often best positioned to identify those who may be at risk for suicide and able to provide or link those at risk with the care they so desperately need. We also know that those who die by suicide frequently had contact with a health care provider in the weeks and months prior to their death. In adults ages 55 or older, up to 70% visited a primary care provider within a month of their death.

Given this evidence, it is important for family physicians to have a firm understanding of suicide prevention, assessment, intervention, safety planning, local resources, and how to make effective referrals. Building upon this, family physicians need to be alert and attentive to possible risk factors, warnings signs, and reports of physiological symptoms from their patients even in the absence of any reported suicidal behaviours.

Planning Committee

  • Yvonne Bergmans, PhD, MSW, RSW.
  • Susan Crouse, MD, CCFP.
  • Alex Drossos, MD, MBA, MEd, BESc.
  • Tana Nash, WRSPC.
  • Glenn Pearce, MD.
  • Neal Stretch, MD.
  • Sol Stern, MD, MSc, BSc, MCFP.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this program, participants will be able to:

  1. Evaluate the level of risk for suicide and determine how best to intervene.
  2. Understand the prevalence of, and which groups are at high-risk for suicide in Canada.
  3. Build trust with your patient and gain the confidence needed to have a conversation with a patient about suicide.
  4. Understand some of the tools and resources available to support the identification of the risk of suicide among your patients, and how to better offer that follow-up support.
  5. Understand the responsibility of a family physician when addressing the concern of suicide and how to have conversations about suicide with patients.

Myths and Realities of Suicide

Myths   Realities
  • Talking about suicide will give someone the idea, or permission to consider dying by suicide an option to ending their problems.
  • Suicide is sudden and unpredicted.
  • Youth who talk about suicide are looking for attention.
  • Suicidal individuals are determined to die.
  • Someone who has moderate to severe suicidal ideation will always be at risk to die by suicide.
  • An individual who is smart and successful would never think about dying by suicide.
  • Calmly, without fear or judgement, talking about suicide can actually relieve someone from feelings of isolation. Talking about suicide shows sincere concern, the encouragement to have this dialogue can prevent an attempt of suicide.
  • Suicide tends to be a process. Often, there are signs and indications of the intention to die by suicide.
  • All suicide threats must be taken seriously.
  • These individuals are in emotional pain. They do not necessarily want to die, but they want the pain to end. To them, it may seem that death is the only way to stop the pain.
  • Most people who have thoughts of suicide will not go on to make an attempt. Learning effective coping techniques to deal with stress can relieve the desire to escape the pain.
  • Remember, everyone is at risk for suicide. Suicide has no cultural, ethnic, racial or socioeconomic boundaries.

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