The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention. Regrettably, suicide rates have been on the increase in recent years: in 2018, there were 6507 suicides in the UK alone.1
This is a crisis that we cannot ignore.
Nobody should have to feel the need to end their own life. It’s vital that we are able to have the difficult conversations that let people know that they are not alone. By familiarising yourself with the things you can do to support others, you can help make a difference.
Prevention is key
With such a complex issue, there is no one thing that we can pinpoint as a cause. However, there are a number of factors that have been linked to an increased risk of suicide, such as financial uncertainty, unemployment, loneliness, discrimination, poor body image and ill health.
These are things that can affect us all, so it’s important to show compassion for others. This support should begin long before someone is in crisis; the most helpful thing we can all do is encourage open and honest conversations about mental health, making people aware of the help that is available to them.
Watch out for signs of distress and changes in behaviour
Ask “are you having suicidal thoughts?”
It will pass – assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time
Talk to others – encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional
Every Mind Matters
Having these challenging conversations can affect your own mental health, so it’s important to look after your needs as well as the needs of others. The NHS Every Mind Matters campaign is all about promoting good mental health to improve your wellbeing and quality of life.
There are a number of resources you can use to help tackle issues relating to anxiety, sleep, stress and low mood, as well as recognising the connection between psychical and mental wellbeing. If you are able to understand and manage your own mental health, you can also be there to help others when they need it most.
Where to get help
Samaritans offer a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week support service. Call them FREE on 116 123. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
Papyrus is a dedicated service for people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling or anyone concerned about a young person. You can call the HOPElineUK number on 0800 068 4141, text 07786 209697 or email email@example.com
NHS Choices: 24-hour national helpline providing health advice and information. Call them free on 111.
A.L.M.: National helpline for men to talk about any troubles they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58.
Support After Suicide Partnership offers practical and emotional support on their website for people bereaved and affected by suicide.
If you or someone else needs urgent help, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress.