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Mental Health

What’s the difference between mental health and mental illness? Many people confuse mental health with mental illness, but they’re actually two different things. Mental health is more than just no mental illness. Let’s face it, life isn’t perfect for anyone, and good mental health comes from knowing that we can cope with whatever life sends our way. Mental health is about the quality of our life and being able to find balance between the many parts of our lives – family, school, social life, relationships, activities, spiritual beliefs, and so on.

It’s almost impossible to have perfect mental health. Life is full of ups and downs, and everyone will face difficult and stressful situations. The cool thing is that we can all work at improving our mental health in the same way that we can change and improve our physical health. By developing strong relationships with people that can support us, and learning more healthy coping skills we can build good mental health one step at a time. For more info, check out the Coping section at the end of this section.

Being mentally well can also help prevent mental illness which can start to show up in the teen years or younger. To read more about mental illness, suicide, and how to cope with the struggles of everyday life, check out the other sections below.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is part of our overall health, everyone has it and it changes throughout our lives. Mental health is about:

  • How you feel, think, and act
  • How you cope with the ups and downs of everyday life
  • How you feel about yourself and your life
  • How you see yourself and your future
  • How stress affects you
  • How you deal with negative things that happen in your life
  • Your self-esteem or confidence


Everyone has ways that they deal with stress or hard times. What we do to get through a tough time is called coping. We can all learn more and healthier ways of coping. It can’t make stressful times go away, but good coping can make hard times easier to deal with. For more on building up your coping strategies check out the Coping section below.

Different Types of Mental Illness
There are lots of different mental illnesses, but we focus mainly on four of the more common ones that affect youth: anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Keep in mind the info here is general signs and symptoms only a qualified health care provider can diagnose someone. Remember, all mental illnesses can be treated, and many people can recover!

These are basic signs and symptoms, for more info on specific mental illnesses check out the mental health websites in the resources section.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness; about 1 in 10 people have one. There are different types of anxiety disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Sometimes people can get anxiety or panic attacks. The symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack can include sweating, headache, nausea, tunnel vision and a racing heart.


People can feel depressed for lots of different reasons and it can last several weeks or months, or happen once in a while throughout someone’s life. Depression can make people feel sad or worthless, and it can make it hard to get out of bed and face the day. Depression can make people lose interest in doing the things they love.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is extreme mood swings that are out of proportion to the things that are going on in life. The moods are sometimes called either “highs” or “lows”. The “highs” can make someone feel really active or energetic, but also irritable, agitated, and impulsive. This means they might do something without really thinking it through, or they might have poor judgment. The “high” mood is usually followed by a “crash” or low depressed mood.


People with schizophrenia might hear, see, smell or feel things that other people don’t. These experiences can be very real and scary for someone with schizophrenia, so it’s important to never judge someone else if they are reacting to something we can’t see. Some people with schizophrenia might withdraw from interacting with other people and become paranoid.

Some people think that if you have schizophrenia you might get violent. This isn’t true! Only a small percentage of people with schizophrenia will have violent outbursts, and most of the time that is outburst is directed at themselves. Most people with mental illnesses are actually more likely to be the victim of violence.

Also, if someone sees or hears things that others don’t, that doesn’t mean they definitely have schizophrenia. In some cultures, people who experience things that others don’t are considered to have gifts and be special.


Stress isn’t a mental illness on its own, and everyone experiences it. People might get stressed over homework, relationships, Facebook, family fights, or whatever! Stress can also be part of positive experiences, like going on a date, starting a job, and so on.

People can feel a variety of things when they are stressed, including tension, anxiety, confusion, and irritability. There can also be physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle stiffness, increase or loss of appetite, or tiredness. These feelings might be different for each person. When people are feeling stressed, it’s important to take a break and try to relax. This could mean going to bed earlier to get enough rest, going for a walk, or talking to someone. If people are feeling super stressed out all the time and don’t know how to deal with it, talking with someone about it can really help. It’s important for all of us to learn how to reduce our stress.

If you’re worried about the intensity of your emotions or don’t feel able to deal with problems in life, try talking to someone about it! Friends, family, your cousin or aunty or anyone else you trust might be able to help. If you want to speak to a counselor, Klinic has a drop-in counseling program (for anyone over age 13) and there’s also the Crisis Line, (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, and it’s on 24/7. For more resources available to youth in Manitoba check out the Resources page.

Treatment for mental illness depends a lot on the situation and no one treatment plan will work for everyone. Talking to a counselor, going to therapy, using medication, or joining a support group are just a few ways that mental illness can be treated.

Sometimes a doctor will prescribe medication to treat mental illness. It can be helpful to ask questions and gather information about the medication.

Questions you might ask are:

  • What are the side effects?
  • Why am I taking this?
  • Are there any alternatives to taking this medication?
  • Is this the lowest dose I can take for it to be effective?
  • What are the expected results?
  • If I take drugs/alcohol or another medication while on this prescription, what will happen?
  • How long should I take it for?
  • Will it make my birth control pill less effective?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • How often should I take it?
  • What time of the day should I take this?


Any medication can have side effects. If you have side effects they don’t like, talk to a doctor about it. There might be some other medication or treatment they could try. Stopping any medication all at once can be dangerous, be sure to check with your health care provider first.

With or without mental illness, everyone can learn more healthy ways of coping. Healthy coping can help us look after ourselves at any time in our lives. For more, check out the Coping section below.



Sometimes people having a hard time might try to cope by harming themselves. Self-harm is not a suicide attempt, but actually a way to cope with really painful feelings. People may use self-harm to:

  • Relieve tension
  • Release adrenaline, which is a chemical that temporarily lowers pain
  • Replace emotional pain with physical pain
  • Give them a sense of control over their life, even though they might feel like the behavior is controlling them.

Cutting is one form of self-harm. Cutting can have risks like, cutting too deep (bleeding more) or, getting an infection like HIV or Hep C. If people are cutting, it’s important to keep cutting objects clean, not to share them, try to avoid veins, have a first-aid kit and phone nearby (in case you need to call for help), and get medical attention if necessary. While self-harm is often the result of feeling out of control and trying to managing emotional pain, there is a chance someone could accidentally cut too deep which can result in accidental death. Other ways to lower risks are to try snapping an elastic band against their wrist, draw on themselves with red marker, or squeeze ice cubes in their hands. These can have similar effects without breaking the skin.

Because there are risks with self-harm, it’s important to explore healthier ways coping. For more info check out the Coping section below.


Self-medicating is when someone tries to feel better or numb difficult feelings by using a substance not prescribed by a doctor (alcohol for example). There can be risks with self-medicating and ways to stay safer. For more on the risks and ways to lower the chance of something bad happening if someone is choosing to use drugs or alcohol check out our Substance Use section.

Thoughts of Suicide
Suicide is a heavy topic. If you are thinking about suicide, or if you are worried about someone else who might be suicidal, you should tell someone. It can be really hard to talk about, but talking about it to someone you trust can be the starting point to getting help. Anyone who is thinking about suicide or worried about a friend who may be thinking about suicide can call the Manitoba Suicide Line 1-877-435-7170. The number is free and there are trained counsellors who can help. You can also visit their website, www.reasontolive.ca.

Signs that someone is thinking of suicide:

  • Talking about suicide either in person or on-line (like someone posting “no one would miss me if I was gone”, or “I don’t want to live anymore” on Facebook).
  • Having a plan to kill themselves
  • Saying goodbye
  • Increase in drug/alcohol use
  • Giving away their things
  • Acting withdrawn


Warning signs should always be taken seriously. Some people talk about suicide or show other warning signs because they want help and don’t know how to ask. Don’t forget, we all need attention, especially if we are struggling.

If someone is talking about suicide, or showing warning signs, what should you do? Listen to them, don’t judge them, go with them to a counselor if they agree to, call a crisis line with them or on your own, and tell them you care about them. If you are worried that a friend may be suicidal, talk to an adult you trust about it. Let your friend know that you are worried about them and that you can’t keep it a secret. You can’t predict how they will react and there is a chance they might be mad, but it’s a chance you need to take in order to keep them safe.

What if someone is talking about suicide for the 10th or 50th time? You can do the same things. In fact, people who have attempted are at a higher risk of dying by suicide.

If you are worried about a friend, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. Asking someone in a non-judgmental way shows your friend that you care and want to help.

Try to ask directly and in a way that doesn’t make the other person feel judged. There’s a difference between, “You’re not suicidal, are you?” and, “Are you thinking about suicide?” By asking in a non-judgmental way, you’re letting them know that you have noticed something is up with them and you care enough to check it out. It might also allow them to talk about it, which can be a first step to getting help.

You don’t have to “solve” the other person’s problems in order to be helpful. If someone is suicidal they need help and support from trusted adults (counsellor, guidance counsellor, uncle, auntie, Elder, etc.) as well as from friends. You can help by going with them to talk to an adult, or supporting them.

Taking care of yourself is super important if you are supporting someone who is suicidal (or going through a hard time) or if you are grieving the loss of someone who died by suicide. Loosing someone to suicide is a very difficult thing to go through. There may be a lot of mixed feelings (anger, sadness, guilt, etc. all are normal) and questions that come up when we think about the person. It is important to know that you are not alone, that it is not your fault, and that it can be good to talk to someone about your feelings when you are ready.

For more information about suicide, visit that Manitoba Suicide Line’s website, www.reasontolive.ca.


Improving our mental health…

There are lots of ways that people can improve their mental health. It’s helpful to think about the supportive people in your life that you can talk to, the things you like to do, and things that you like about yourself. You could even make lists to help yourself remember when you are having a tough time. Writing your lists on a good day can be really helpful when things aren’t going well. Keep your lists in mind and remember it’s important to look after yourself!

Your lists might look something like these…

People I can talk to:

  • A trusted friend or family member
  • A trusted guidance counsellor or teacher
  • Someone at a Teen Clinic
  • A counsellor at a Community Health Clinic
  • A phone line. The ones on our list are non-judgmental, youth-friendly and won’t force you to talk about something if you don’t want to!
  • You can call the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program in Winnipeg at (204)958-9660.

Things I like to do:

  • Hang-out with friends
  • Talk to people
  • Cry/laugh/hug
  • Write, draw, play music
  • Play sports
  • Dance
  • Go for a walk
  • Read
  • Watch TV/Movies
  • Go shopping
  • Make something
  • Masturbate
  • Get to know myself

Things I like about myself:

  • Funny / have a good sense of humor
  • Good at helping people
  • Good at drawing, painting, writing, etc.
  • Good at sports or dancing or walking your dog
  • Good at cheering people up / yourself up
  • A good friend
  • Being kind
  • Being smart
  • Good at cooking
  • Good at music
  • …And so on and on!


It isn’t arrogant or conceited to like things about yourself, everyone has skills and talents, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling proud, showing them, or acknowledging them!

Everyone needs healthy coping skills, especially when they’re not feeling great. Depending on someone’s circumstances, it might be more difficult for someone to get through a hard time than it is for others, but that doesn’t make it impossible, and there are some things on these lists that anyone can do!

For a list of cool places to hangout and do activities in Winnipeg, click here.

Questions About Mental Health

I find school stressful, what can I do?
Lots of things about school can be stressful: school work, homework, interacting with teachers and peers all day long, sports, gym class, exams, fitting in, conflict with friends, and bullying can all be challenging. Even people who really like school find it stressful at times. If you feel stressed out about any part of school it can help to talk about it with the guidance counsellor or a teacher, friends, family or care givers. Sometimes talking about it with someone you trust and look up to can help make the situation easier to manage. Spending time with supportive people who make you feel good about yourself can also reduce stress. It can also help to make a list of things you like to do, maybe hanging out with friends, doing something creative, listening or playing music, reading, whatever you like to do. Try to make time for doing things you like as often as you can, it can help relieve stress.

The demands of school whether it’s grades, sports, or friendships are not supposed to be completely overwhelming. If you feel very pressured to perform in any area of your life it might mean you need to take a break from some commitments. This could mean not starting anything new for a while, taking a break or quitting something, or saying no to people sometimes (for example, “I’d love to help, but I’m just too busy right now”).

I have low self-esteem problems. Should I get help or will I grow out of it?
Self-esteem is basically how you feel about yourself. When someone isn’t happy with themselves or doesn’t like themselves its call low self-esteem. It’s normal for teens (and everyone) to go through periods of low self-esteem. How long has this been going on? Has this been affecting your ability to do things in your life (reach goals, form friendships or relationships, stand up for your rights)? Life can sometimes be tough and everyone needs to talk about stuff sometimes. If you would like to talk to someone about this, please don’t let anyone tell you that you will just “grow out of it”. If you are in school your guidance counsellor is there to help students, it’s their job. It’s also normal and healthy to talk to supportive people such as family, friends, elders, teachers, and social workers. This might help you gain perspective or just get some feelings off your chest. You can call the Klinic Crisis line, (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, or Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868. You can also go to a teen clinic and ask to speak to someone there about any mental health issue.
If you are depressed, how can you tell? How depressed do you have to be to be considered depressed?
Some symptoms of depression can be: feeling really sad, feeling worthless, and loss of interest in life. Depression can feel overwhelming and make people feel low in energy. Sometimes depression can make you feel like you can’t get out of bed in the morning and you may not want to be with your friends and family. Almost everyone has felt depressed, and the feelings usually get better over time. Sometimes depression can last for several weeks at a time and people might experience it several times during their lifetime. Depression can be caused by a situation or traumatic event (a break-up, a death, etc.), but it can also be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Talking to someone you trust can help if you are depressed, feeling sad or having a hard time. Almost everyone has experienced some kind of depression at some point in their lives. What’s important is that you take care of yourself and share your feelings with people you feel comfortable with. Your feelings are real and valid and you don’t have to go through a tough time or deal with depression alone. Anyone can call the Klinic Crisis line, (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868. You can also go to a teen clinic and ask to speak to someone there about any mental health issue.

What if you know your friend has a mental illness but they don’t want to talk about it?
Sometimes people have been living with a mental illness for a while and just don’t feel like talking about it. Maybe they have already seen a doctor about it or maybe they are taking medication and have figured out ways to manage their mental illness. Sometimes people find it difficult to talk about mental illness because they have been judged or aren’t sure how others will react. They might be worried about being treated poorly. There is still a lot of stigma (extreme disapproval) about mental illness, this can make it harder for people to talk about it.

You can’t force someone to talk about something they don’t want to talk about, but you can always remind your friends that you’re willing to listen if they need to talk. You can ask your friend how they are feeling or what they are thinking about. If you want to specifically learn more about how to talk with someone who might be thinking about suicide, check out the Thoughts of Suicide section above.

What is cutting and why do people cut?
Cutting is one form of self-harm (hurting yourself). When people use self-harm, it is usually to cope with difficult feelings or emotional pain. People might self-harm because they are trying to:

• replace emotional pain with physical pain
• give a sense of control when other parts of life may not be within their
• relieve tension
• release adrenaline, a pain-lowering chemical
• temporarily relieve feelings of guilt by punishing oneself

There can be risks with self-harm, especially with cutting. It’s possible for someone to cut too deep and lose a lot of blood. Someone could also get an infection, or if they were sharing cutting objects, get Hepatitis C or HIV.

If someone is cutting it is important to keep the cutting objects clean and not share them with others. Try to have first aid supplies nearby and avoid veins and arteries. Having a phone or not being alone makes it easier to get help if needed. People can also try to think about things that they like about themselves and try to fill up their life with other activities they enjoy. Talking to a trusted support person can also help. This could be a school guidance counsellor, family member or close friend. Someone could also call a confidential phone line like the Klinic Crisis Line, (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019 or Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868.

What’s the most effective way to stop cutting?
It really depends on the person. Some people find it helpful to keep self-harm items in a locked box, delay the self-harm by doing other activities or burn off steam with physical activity. Holding an ice cube in each hand while trying to make a fist, drawing on the body using red marker, or snapping elastics on the skin are other activities might still hurt, but the chances of something bad happening are lower (see the question Why do people cut for more info on risks). People can also try to think about things that they like about themselves and try to fill up their life with other activities they enjoy. Talking to a trusted support person can also help. This could be a school guidance counsellor, family member or close friend. Someone could also call a confidential phone line such as the Klinic Crisis Line (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, or the Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868.
If I get a mental illness when I’m young will I have it forever?
This is a really good question. Here’s what the experts at the Canadian Mental Health Association say about it…

“People can and do recover from mental illnesses. Today, there are many different kinds of treatments, services, and supports that can help. No one should expect to feel unwell forever. The fact is, people who experience mental illnesses can and do lead productive, engaged lives. They work, volunteer, or contribute their unique skills and abilities to their communities. Even when people experience mental illnesses that last for a long time, they can learn how to manage their symptoms so they can get back to their goals. If someone continues to experience many challenges, it may be a sign that different approaches or supports are needed.”

If you want more information from the CMHA, you can check out their website, www.cmha.ca.

Are people born with mental illnesses?
It’s a complicated question that doesn’t have an easy answer. It is true that sometimes mental illness can be inherited from family members, but it doesn’t mean that everyone in a family will deal with the same illness. Family history or genetics are just one factor. Mental illness affects about 1 in 5 people, according the Canadian Association of Mental Health. What brings it on or causes it will be different for everyone. A traumatic event, stress, and brain chemistry, are a few possible factors. Check out the question about whether mental illness lasts forever for more info.
Should we treat people with mental illnesses differently?
The short answer is no. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Just like having a physical illness, mental illness can make some aspects of life more challenging. Most people want to feel supported, accepted, and respected. People with any illness want these same things.

If someone has a mental illness, people around them can sometimes focus only on the illness and lose sight of others parts of the person. For example, we might think of someone as being “schizophrenic”, instead of thinking of them as a person who has schizophrenia and also has tons of other things going on their life, like their hobbies, jobs, feelings and relationships.

What is the politically correct term to use for people with a mental illness?
Great question! We are all people first and foremost, regardless of what else we have going on in our lives. If someone has depression, instead of saying “they are depressed” you could say “they deal with depression”. It’s kind of like how someone with diabetes isn’t called a “diabetes person” we would usually say “they have diabetes.” Instead of saying “disabled person”, you could say “person with a disability” or “differently abled person.” There’s also nothing wrong with asking someone what they prefer. Terms such as “crazy”, “mental” or “psycho” are disrespectful and cast judgment on people living with mental illness.
How common is schizophrenia?
The Manitoba Schizophrenia Society says that about 1 in 100 people deal with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a treatable bio-chemical brain disorder. It can affect the way a person thinks, feels, and acts and people with schizophrenia sometimes have hallucinations or delusions (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there). Unfortunately there is a lot of stigma (negative assumptions and judgment) with schizophrenia. This can make it hard for people to get the help they need because they are afraid of being judged or isolated. If someone has schizophrenia it often shows up in the teen years or early 20s, and getting help early improves treatment. Schizophrenia is sometimes, but not always linked to family history, or genetics. If you want to learn more about symptoms of schizophrenia check out the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society’s website, or speak to a guidance Counsellor or doctor.
If you get mad easily do you have bipolar?
Everyone experiences mood changes. Sometimes we feel happy, energetic, and hopeful, other times we feel mad, sad or irritable. Bipolar is a treatable disorder that can make moods feel more extreme. When someone has bipolar disorder their moods can feel really intense, the “highs” and “lows” can feel out of proportion to what’s going on in life. At Teen Talk we don’t have training to be able to diagnose, but what we can do is encourage you to talk to someone who might be able to help you with your feelings, whether or not you have bipolar disorder. Sometimes a school guidance Counsellor, teacher, care giver, or friend can be helpful in sorting out your feelings. You might try thinking about what situations bring on the feelings, and then look for ways to help manage the strong feelings. Many teens and adults use crisis lines; the Counsellors can be helpful in figuring out your feelings. The Klinic Crisis line is (204)786-8686 or toll free 1-888-322-3019, the Kids Help Phone is 1-800-668-6868.
I think I have an anxiety disorder and I’ve been getting anxiety attacks. What can I do?
Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but dealing with an anxiety disorder or panic attacks can make daily life more challenging. Anxiety is treatable and talking about it can help. If you are in school you can go to the guidance counsellor, they will likely have helped other students with high anxiety or panic attacks. You could also talk to a trusted teacher, family member, friend, or call Mental Health Services for Children, Youth, and Families in Winnipeg (204)958-9660.
What is an anxiety attack?
Anxiety (or panic) attacks can happen when someone gets a rush of adrenaline from feeling especially anxious, it can feel like a heart attack. Symptoms of an anxiety attack can be a racing or pounding heart, sweating, shaking, nausea or upset stomach, dizziness, or feeling short of breath. Because panic attacks take up a lot of energy in the body, they don’t usually last very long, usually about 5-10 minutes. Anxiety attacks are treatable and talking to someone like a school guidance Counsellor or health care provider can be a first step in getting help. Many people are able to find way of making anxiety attacks less common and easier to manage. For more information or to get treatment call Mental Health Services for Children, Youth, and Families in Winnipeg (204)958-9660).
What is ADD or ADHD? Is it a mental illness?
ADD is a diagnosis made by a doctor that means attention-deficit disorder. ADHD is a similar diagnosis which means the same things plus hyperactivity. ADHD is a treatable mental disorder, and the symptoms include hyperactivity, forgetfulness, poor impulse control, and difficulty paying attention. Roughly 1 in 30 people have ADD/ADHD. There are different treatments people use if they have ADHD or ADD. For example, people might take medication, change their diet, or seek counselling. Sometimes people have to make lifestyle changes. For example, someone might join a class or a school where they can do their work with fewer distractions. Many people live very productive lives with ADD or ADHD.
What medication do people take when they have a mental illness?
There are different ways to treat mental illness. Medication, counselling, support groups, traditional medicine, and therapy are common. Whether or not someone takes medication depends on the situation, the mental illness and what the person and their health care provider think makes the most sense. Since there are many different kinds of mental illness there are also many different types of medication, what works for one person may not work as well for someone else. Sometimes people decide not to take medication and work on their mental health in other ways, such as counselling and practicing self-care.
Are there warning signs that someone is thinking about suicide?
There are warning signs that someone may be thinking about suicide. Some warning signs are:

• Talking about it, either face-to-face or online. Examples could be saying or posting “the world would be better off without me”, “I don’t want to live anymore”, or “I want to die.”
• Using more alcohol or drugs
• Feeling that life has no purpose
• Feeling more anxious or agitated
• Feeling trapped
• Feeling hopeless or helpless
• Risky behavior
• Withdrawing or staying away from people
• Noticeable change in mood, more depressed, sad, anxious, or even happy (after being sad for a long time)

These warning signs are from the Manitoba website Reason to Live.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, tell an adult you trust. You can also call the Manitoba Suicide Line, 1-877-435-7170, its toll-free, 24-hour, confidential service staffed by caring and compassionate counsellors who will listen and support. Other places to call are the Klinic Crisis Line, (204)786-8686, Youth Mobile Crisis Unit, (204)949-4777, or Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868.

My friend posts about wanting to die, I’m not sure what to do?
Talking about suicide out loud or online is a warning sign and should be taken seriously. It could be indirect, “no one would miss me”, “I don’t want to be here anymore” or “they’ll be better off without me”, or direct “I don’t want to live anymore”/“I want to die”. If someone is talking about suicide either in person or online tell an adult you trust, don’t keep it a secret. You can also call the Manitoba Suicide Line, 1-877-435-7170, its toll-free, 24-hour, confidential service staffed by caring and compassionate counsellors who will listen and support. You and your friend can use the line, it’s there for anyone who is affected by suicide. Other places to call could be the Klinic Crisis Line, (204)786-8686, Youth Mobile Crisis Unit, 949-4777, or Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868. If your friend is in immediate danger, call 911.

If someone is posting or talking about suicide we can ask them about it directly and without judgment. It can be hard to do, but asking a friend lets them know you are concerned and gives them a chance to talk about how they are feeling. Although talking may not make problems go away, problems can be easier to manage when we don’t feel alone.

If you are finding the situation stressful, don’t be afraid to seek out those same supports for yourself.

What if you tell someone you trust that you are thinking about suicide and they think it’s a joke?
It can be hard to reach out for help when you are dealing with a mental health issue, or thinking about suicide. Teen Talk often says that it is a good thing to talk to someone you trust, but unfortunatelythose people may end up not being supportive of us sometimes. Your feelings are real and valid, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are other resources for people who need to talk to someone and get the support they need. The Manitoba Suicide Line, 1-877-435-7170, Klinic Crisis Line, (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, or the Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868. All are free, anonymous phone lines, when you call them, the person on the other end will believe what you tell them and help you work through your situation without judging you. There is also free drop-in counselling available (in Winnipeg) at 545 Broadway (Monday/Wednesday 12-7 pm, Tuesday/Friday/Saturday 12-4 pm).
My partner threatens to attempt suicide when I try to break up with them. Is this just a tactic to keep me from leaving?
This is a difficult situation. Whenever someone talks about suicide, we need to take them seriously, even if we’ve heard them speak about it several times before. This being said, you still have a right to end a relationship, even if the person is threatening suicide. If someone is threatening to hurt themselves in order to keep you in a relationship, this is manipulation (trying to get you to stay in the relationship when you don’t want to stay) and not a good reason to stay.

If someone is suicidal, encourage them to talk someone about their feelings. It doesn’t have to be you. They can talk the Manitoba Suicide Line (1-877-435-7170), Klinic Crisis Line (204-786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019), the Kids Help Phone, or try talking to a friend, family member, or school guidance counselour. Providing some resources where they can get support and access more information can be helpful. Whether they decide to reach out to other supports is up to them. It can be difficult, but staying in a relationship because you’re afraid they will harm themselves isn’t good for either of you.

It can be overwhelming and very stressful when someone we care about is thinking about suicide. You don’t have to deal with the situation all alone. You can ask for help and get support, try talking to a trusted adult, friend, or using the phone lines above. Talking about a stressful situation can help you sort out your feelings and make the situation seem more manageable.