September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, an initiative organised by a collaboration of over 70 mental health and suicide prevention groups, which form the National Suicide Prevention Alliance
This important initiative aims to raise awareness of suicide, encourage more open conversation about mental health and - crucially - make sure that people are kept informed about where to get help when they need it.
In the UK and Republic of Ireland, there are more than 125 deaths from suicide every week. Many factors can make people more likely to take their own life, although people can become depressed and suicidal for a range of complicated reasons. However, there are certain factors which place people at higher risk of suicide, including a history of mental health problems, physical illness and chronic pain, relationship difficulties and drug or alcohol dependency. People can also find their own depression and anxiety triggered by external factors, such as financial difficulties, problems within their employment or the recent death of The Queen.
But it’s imporant to remember that suicide is not always inevitable; often, feeling actively suicidal is temporary, which means that with the right support, many suicides can be prevented.
First and foremost, we need to open up dialogue about mental health problems in general, and remove the stigma attached to talking about suicide.
The Samaritans offer a range of online resources for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, and those close to them. These include the following helpful tips for starting a conversation with someone you know, if you’re concerned that they may be contemplating suicide:
Choose a good time, and somewhere without distractions
Use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer
‘How are things, I’ve noticed you don’t seem quite yourself?’
Listen well. ‘How’s that making you feel?’
Avoid giving your view of what’s wrong, or what they should do.
Although many people are worried about asking someone outright whether they’ve been having suicidal thoughts, there is no need to be. Asking somebody about suicide isn’t going to make them take their own life. But it may help to begin a conversation which leads them to the help that they need.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or if you think a friend, colleague or someone close to you is at risk of suicide, then you can contact The Samaritans 24/7, 365 days a year on 116 123. You can also speak to your GP, counsellor, PWP or mental health support worker. In the case of an emergency, you can go to your local A&E department for urgent help.At Pneuma, we provide Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners to support service users in the community, and we’re committed to the health and wellbeing of our workforce, as well as our service users. Our priority is people. You can find out more about our service here.