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What is World Suicide Prevention Day?

The 10th of September every year is World Suicide Prevention Day where organisations, communities and people come together to raise awareness for preventing suicide.

There is still a lot of stigma around Suicide and each year a different theme is taken to highlight an aspect of suicide prevention.

Is suicide a big concern?

Every life is important. The loss of a life has an impact on family, friends and colleagues.

In the UK someone completes suicide every 90 minutes. This is less time than it takes to watch a film.

The suicide rate in 2018 went up by 10.8% and the suicide rate in girls under 25 went up 93.8% in 7 years to 2019.

The construction industry has become known as one of the deadliest industries to work, but not due to the cranes or machines, but due to the number of suicides. Every 2 days a construction worker will complete suicide.

In the UK Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women, while in the Republic of Ireland it four times.

The highest suicide rate is in men between 45-49.

The stats are worryingly high and it is important we reduce the stigma and make it ok to talk.

*(Suicide facts and figures, 2020)

The impact of history on the terminology

Suicide was illegal in England and Wales until the Suicide Act was introduced in 1961. If you attempted suicide prior to 1961 you could be prosecuted for committing a crime and imprisoned. If someone was successful in completing suicide, the family could face prosecution.

This history has provided stigma to the terminology of saying Committed Suicide and brought shame to the family. There many suicides not recorded as suicide as families did not want it on the death certificate.

It is therefore important we talk about Attempting Suicide and Completing Suicide rather than Committing Suicide.

Are people being selfish by committing suicide?

People are not being selfish and often feel that it would better for other people if they are not around.

People who feel so low cannot see another way out and feel it would be better if they were not around. They can only see the negatives in everything and may feel they are a burden, no longer needed or have let people down.

Before someone attempts suicide, they may organise their life, so there are no loose ends and the people they love are catered for after they leave, for example by sorting the will. These are not the signs of someone being selfish.

Are people attention seeking?

People who attempt suicide are not attention-seeking and the signs they are displaying should not be ignored.

They can feel very low and want help, but do not want to ask and feel their problems are not significant enough to tell someone.

When someone notices something is not right and asks how they can help, it can be a relief to finally talk to someone.

Should I ask someone if they are considering suicide?

People report concerns in asking someone if they are suicidal as they are worried about putting ideas in someone's head. In reality, if you are worried about someone who appears low and has lost interest in living, you are not going to put ideas in their head or encourage them to follow through on their thoughts.

It is important to ask someone if you are concerned about them when they are howing some of the following signs:

  • low
  • not interested in life
  • always looking at the negatives
  • shutting out the family
  • putting their life in order
  • self-harming
  • self-medicating

Once you know they are suicidal it is important to access support. How soon you need the support will depend on answers to the following questions.

  • Do you have a plan?
  • Do you have the items for your plan?
  • Have you attempted suicide before?
  • Do you have a mental health worker to support you?

When they answer no to all these questions, you can focus on reconnecting them with their family or friends.

When they answer yes to these questions, you either need to reconnect them with their mental health support or contact the emergency services.

Where can I get additional support?

The Samaritans have many resources and access to support line 365 days of the year. You can find resources here. https://www.samaritans.org

Rethink Mental Illness provide resources and access to help around mental health at https://www.rethink.org/

Mind has excellent resources on mental health for individuals and businesses https://www.mind.org.uk/. They have specific information on suicide at https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/suicidal-feelings/about-suicidal-feelings/

Can I learn more about Suicide?

We cover how to respond to someone who is suicidal as part of our Level 2 First Aid for Mental Health course. The course is available online or face to face. You can get more information on our various Mental Health courses here.

 

Samaritans. 2020. Suicide Facts And Figures. [online] Available at: <https://www.samaritans.org/wales/about-samaritans/research-policy/suicide-facts-and-figures/> [Accessed 10 September 2020].