World Suicide Prevention Day – What to do?
World Suicide Prevention Day is coming up on the 10th of September. And it is not an easy topic to talk about. However, we think we want to write this article to raise awareness and to reach people who might be seeking for help.
Suicide is sadly more common than we think: In the UK, 1 person in 15 has made a suicide attempt at some point in their life. (NHS Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 2016).
And we can guess from here the very high number of people considering suicide as an option... Because it escalates: you consider it as option, it becomes the only option, you plan it, and you die from it. At each step before the fatal one though, some people drop the idea. Our responsibility as a community and as a society is to start prevention as soon as possible, so that suicide is not even considered as an option by people in pain.
However, according to OECD Mental Health Analysis profiles (2015), three quarters of people who die from suicide have not been diagnosed with a mental health issue. Consequently, these people have not been in contact with mental health services. Now as a community, our role is to be present for people in pain, so that they receive the right support at the right time!
Here are three tools if you are concerned about a friend, family member or colleague:
Reach out to this person as soon as possible, and simply ask ‘are you ok?’. Gavin Larkin, the founder of the Australian charity ‘R U OK’, lost his father from suicide, and realised that a small question could have made a big difference to his father and to people struggling in life. He decided to champion this simple question, ‘Are you OK?’ to honour his father and protect other families and friends from the pain. The charity developed an easy-to-follow 4 steps model to save lives: Ask; Listen; Encourage Action; Check in. They have great resources on their website on how to follow each step and be prepared to support people struggling in life.
Make sure that your workplace is ready for employees to start these important conversations. You can for instance have a Mental Health Champions’ programme to train a specific group of people that employees can refer to, or train Mental Health First Aiders who would be equipped to deal with mental health crisis in the workplace. Creating this ‘safe’ environment for colleagues to talk can save lives.
Be aware of the resources available to you and to people in pain, to support and prevent the worst. Here are two of them:
Samaritans offer a 24/7 support service over the phone or via email
NHS Choices offers a 24/7 national helpline with health advice on 111.
If you are struggling now, please be aware that you are not alone! Some people have gone through the same as you are going through right now, and managed to survive and go on with a positive life! We have some examples for you here:
Follow Mental Conversations on Twitter, they share great podcasts on mental health and personal impactful stories!
Watch the ’U Can Cope’ movie. No, you are not alone, reach out!