Guest Blog: World Suicide Prevention Day

Monday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. We invited Clare Dickens, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at the University of Wolverhampton, to feature in our blog.

A recent Office For National Statistics report has noted that rates of suicide are steadily decreasing for men and women but, tragically, are rising in adolescents. Still, over 4000 people died last year and each number represents a tragedy, and we cannot become complacent. Zero can be our only aim.

Suicide is not an inevitable outcome of a suicidal thought; the thoughts pass and are indicators of distress and a desire to escape emotional pain. Talking to someone can help and, even if you find the advice or response unhelpful, consider that this is likely coming from a deep place of concern or fear about getting it wrong; we have centuries of steeped perceptions and ideas piling around this issue and we were born into these understandings.

Helping somebody else

Expressing a suicidal thought is not attention seeking, nor is anyone threatening suicide. Think instead that someone is connection seeking, offering a permission to help them which, on reflection, is a privilege and there is clearly something they trust in you to do that. Listen and encourage help-seeking. These thoughts can beset anyone – they are not necessarily symptoms of illness, more so distress.

Think about language

Suicide is not a criminal offence, therefore, no-one commit‘s suicide. This criminal connotation could make it less likely for someone struggling with suicidal thoughts to discuss their feelings. ‘Unsuccessful suicide attempt’? Do we successfully die of anything else in this country?

Be gentle with yourself

I have to reflect that we judge ourselves far more harshly than we ever would do anyone else – we can be our own worst enemy! If we find ourselves in deep distress, think about what we’d advise someone we love. Speak those words to yourself. I could go on but I’ll leave the last word to one of my favourite thinkers, Albert Camus:

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better” 


How can I show support on World Suicide Prevention Day?

Clare says: “To show support I’d ask you to consider changing your profile picture to the orange ribbon (left) which has become synonymous with this day and flood Facebook with hope. I’m such an advocate for suicide prevention to be democratised and made everyone’s concern and we shouldn’t feel overwhelmed with responsibility for someone else’s life in doing this. Simple acts, words of kindness, hope and gestures can be enough to tip someone back to a point of safety.

What else can I do?

You can support the work of a suicide prevention charity by raising vital funds everytime you shop via Give as you Live. It’s free and simple to set up your account and, once you’re signed up, you can start fundraising immediately just by shopping online as you normally would.

Just some of the charities you could support are:

Samaritans

Arguably one of the most well-known charities in the field, Samaritans are available 24 hours-a-day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair including those which may lead to suicide. Support Samaritans.

PAPYRUS

Working to prevent suicide in young people (35 years and under), PAPYRUS provide a helpline staffed by professionals experienced in working with suicidal young people, families or carers to give support and practical advice to young people worried about themselves and to anyone else concerned that a young person they know may be at risk of harming themselves. Support PAPYRUS.

CALM

The Campaign Against Living Miserably is dedicated to preventing male suicide, the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. CALM offer support via a helpline, webchat and website, challenge the culture which prevents men seeking help, push for change in policy and support those bereaved by suicide via the Support After Suicide Partnership. Support CALM.