There are people in our lives who support us, love us unconditionally and accept us for we are. Sometimes these people are part of the family we were born into, but other times they are part of the family we choose. Surrounding yourself and making social connections with these individuals can help protect you from suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
What is a ‘Chosen Family’?
Not everyone has a loving, supportive family that accepts him or her for who they are. Some people feel alienated by their biological families. Luckily, that’s where friends, or your chosen family, come in.
These are the people you deliberately pick to spend your time with, to invest in and become emotionally close with. It’s those who you consider family even if you’re not biologically or legally related. You can truly rely on these people and turn them when times are hard or celebrate life’s victories with. They fill in the gaps that may be left by biological family.
How Chosen Family Impacts Social Connection
Those we invite into our lives act as channel for love, support and positive affirmation. With them we become a small community and build upon social connection and integration. Connectedness is a very important aspect of mental health and wellbeing as it creates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and sometimes physical support. Studies show that lack of social connection is associated with declines in psychological health and can actually leave to antisocial behaviours, and further isolation.
Chosen Family and Suicide Risk
There isn’t just one thing or factor that helps lower an individual’s risk of suicide, but this concept of social connectedness is an important one within the whole conversation. The effects of strong, positive relationships with others are protective and preventative factors against suicidal thoughts, and behaviours.
Being connected to others can lead to greater self-esteem because individuals feel that they matter to others, that they will be missed. And advice that is shared between friends or chosen family can have a significant impact of behavior, and changing it for the positive, as well as reducing life stresses and problems.
If you have a friend of family member in crisis, experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviours, know that there is help. Visit our list of Canadian crisis centres and take the first step on the road to healing.