Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Each year over 700,000 people die by suicide throughout the world, with the highest rates amongst vulnerable groups such as prisoners, refugees, migrants, LGBTQ+ and indigenous peoples. The suicide rate amongst men is also three times higher than amongst women.
However, mental ill health can affect anyone, at any time.
The facts and figures surrounding suicide are devastating, which is why this year’s international theme is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’. We can all offer hope if we learn to recognise the signs that someone could be struggling, take action, and seek further help.
Look out for the signs:
If you notice someone doesn’t seem themselves and you think that they might be struggling with their mental health, you can offer support:
A common misconception surrounding suicide is that asking someone if they feel suicidal might put the idea in their head, or even encourage them to take their own life. However, this is not the case; talking openly about suicidal feelings won’t encourage someone to take their own life. In fact, research has shown that asking someone if they are feeling suicidal makes them less likely to harm themselves. Talking about suicide can help to reduce the shame and stigma surrounding suicide and help to break down the barriers that prevent people from feeling able to seek help.
By encouraging open conversations about mental health, we can encourage people who are struggling to open-up.
Listening is one of the ways that you can support someone who is struggling. You can offer hope and support by listening attentively and non-judgementally. Be patient, give the speaker your full attention, and avoid talking about yourself, as this is not always helpful. As a listener, you don’t need to have all the answers, offer any solutions, or give advice. Just listen to show that you are there for them and that you care.
Where there is help, there is hope.
You can also help someone by encouraging them to access the free help and support that is available in their community. For instance, we offer a range of free NHS talking therapies across the country, as well as online resources for people who are struggling with mental ill-health.
Get more help here:
Insight IAPT NHS talking therapies.
The Samaritans advice about active listening and supporting someone.
Zero Suicide Alliance online training to help you to support someone.
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) advice about supporting someone who may be suicidal.
International Association for Suicide Prevention international crisis helplines.
National Suicide Prevention Alliance resources for understanding more about suicide prevention.
PAPYRUS (prevention of young suicide) HOPELINE.