To be perfectly honest with you, I was rather apprehensive about writing a post on Suicide Prevention Month. I feared that it might’ve resulted with a self-inflicted trigger. I also questioned whether I was the right person to discuss the importance of suicide prevention when I, myself am far too often conflicted with my own suicidal thoughts. After a long time deliberating on whether it was a good idea, I realised that I had no choice as it is silence that prematurely ends so so many lives. Suicide is an epidemic. Fact. It needs to be taken as seriously as any life-threatening physical illness. The truth is that nobody wants to commit suicide (we all want to enjoy a long, happy and healthy life). However when a mental health issue takes complete control over you, suicide seems like the only escape option.
- More than 800,000 people take their lives every year around the world.
- In the UK and ROI more than 6,000 die by suicide each year – an average of 18 a day.
- For every suicide, there are many more people who attempt suicide.
- A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
- Suicide is the biggest killer of young people- BOTH men and women-under the age of 35 in the UK.
- Suicide is not exclusive to those who have a diagnosed mental illness. Many contemplate suicide without having any mental health issue.
How do we prevent suicide?
Suicides are preventable but this is a highly complex issue. Therefore, prevention and control efforts require comprehensive coordination and collaboration among all sectors of society. This isn’t a responsibility solely dependent on the health sector. This needs the efforts from education, labour, agriculture, business, justice, law, politics and the media. There simply isn’t a one glove fits all solution. Here are some of the measures that need to be taken:
- Early identification, treatment and care of people with mental health issues, substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress.
- Follow-up care of those who have attempted suicide.
- Media reporting responsibly.
- Limiting access to the means of suicide (alcohol, firearms, medications and pesticides).
- Training of non-health professionals to assess and manage suicidal behaviours. i.e teachers at school or management in the workplace.
- Ending the stigma/taboo of talking about suicide.
How Can You Help?
BREAK THE SILENCE! Reach out to people and let them know that #ITSOKAYTOTALK. When someone is suicidal, they feel worthless, they don’t want to burden others and they think that no-one else would care, so they resort to silence and rumination until it seems like there is no other option than to take their own lives. However, a conversation can be life-saving. Having friends or family members who listen or ask “Are you Okay?” can make a huge difference.
Some may find that starting such a sensitive conversation is far too difficult. Are you worried about someone but don’t know how to approach the conversation? Don’t tell them what they should or shouldn’t do. Listen carefully and ask gentle questions like “When did you realise?” or “How did that feel?”. These sorts of questions enable them to feel in control of the conversation. Click here for more ways to break the silence.
Help Save the #ClassOf2018
This month I will be supporting Papyrus UK (Prevention of Young Suicide) and their Save the Class of 2018 campaign. We will be raising awareness of the scale of suicide in schoolchildren and ensuring suicide-safer schools. Over 200 schoolchildren are lost to suicide every year in the UK and recent research shows that almost half (47%) of teaching professionals wouldn’t know how to aid suicide prevention. Schools are faced with many barriers when it comes to giving support to children with suicidal thoughts. School/college guidelines don’t allow for permission to support a student and many schools simply do not have a prevention policy or procedure.
Papyrus UK have created an insightful and incredibly resourceful guide for teachers and staff to build suicide-safe schools. Their aims are to:
- Highlight the role that those in contact with children can play in preventing young suicide.
- Equip secondary schools teachers and staff with suicide prevention skills to better support children at risk.
- Raise awareness of the support available through their helpline, PAPYRUS HOPELineUK.
Please click here to find out how you can support this campaign.
If you are at risk of suicide or are worried about a someone who is at risk of suicide please call:
- Papyrus UK – HOPELineUK 0800 068 41 41 10am-10pm weekdays/ 2pm-10pm weekends (for Young people under 35)
- Samaritans UK – 116 123 24hours/all year
- The Silver Line – 0800 4 70 80 90 24hours/all year) (For those over 55)
- Mind – 0300 123 3393 9am-6pm weekdays
- SANELine -0300 304 7000, 6pm-11pm/ all year
- NHS – 111
Keep safe everyone.