Posttraumatic Stress and Suicide

What is posttraumatic stress disorder?

Life-threatening events trigger strong stress responses in our bodies. They are normally accompanied by very intense physical sensations that dissipate after the danger has passed.


When a person suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the stress reactions don’t go away after a few hours and may reappear days or weeks after the traumatic event. In some cases, people with PTSD may revisit the event in nightmares or feel like they’re reliving it. This can cause distress and make it hard to function on a day-to-day basis.

What causes posttraumatic stress disorder?

All sorts of events can cause PTSD, including:

  • Being in a car accident
  • Seeing a person die or come close to death
  • Getting trapped in a fire
  • Being physically assaulted
  • Being exposed to war
  • Being sexually assaulted
  • Experiencing a natural disaster

What are the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder?

  • Experiencing distress at the thought of the traumatic event
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, rapid breathing, shaking, shivering, or excessive sweating
  • Constantly thinking about the event
  • Avoiding situations or sensations that remind you of the event
  • Feeling agitated or hyper-alert to danger
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Losing interest in things you used to like doing
  • Feeling guilty
  • Using alcohol or drugs to avoid thinking about the event or relieve stress
  • Having suicidal thoughts

Posttraumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts

People suffering from PTSD may have suicidal thoughts. If this is the case for you, consult the following sections:

01 Taking stock of your mental health

The first step toward taking back control is identifying what’s causing your suicidal thoughts.

02 Taking care of yourself

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and regain your balance when you’re having suicidal thoughts.

03 Talking about it with your loved ones

Asking for help from your family and friends isn’t always easy. There are different ways of going about it.

04 Finding support services

Every day, all sorts of people contact support services to get the help they need.

What to do if you have posttraumatic stress disorder

PTSD can be treated. If you have any symptoms of PTSD, first call Info-Social at 811, option 2, to discuss your situation with a psychosocial worker and be referred, if necessary, to resources in your area that can provide support.

For an assessment and follow-up with a healthcare professional, consult a general practitioner (your family doctor, for example), a psychologist or contact your local CLSC.

Other resources can help people suffering from PTSD.


Advice for dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder

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