Today, (10 September) is World Suicide Prevention Day. Abi Spence explains why it is always good for all those working in the sector to talk about how they feel.
Awareness days can be literally a life saver
Charities such as Samaritans believe so. Each year Samaritans, with many other organisations and individuals across the globe raise awareness of suicide prevention, ‘we know that suicide is preventable, it’s not inevitable’, they write.
Statistics relating to Suicide
The Mental Health Foundation report 6,524 people took their own lives in the UK in 2019 and one in five of us have thoughts about suicide in our lifetimes.
Struggling to cope
Samaritans say ‘Many people struggle to cope at one point or another in their lives. Reaching out to someone could help them know that someone cares, that they are valued, and help them access the support they need.’
There may be many factors as to why people may feel suicidal. Within the sector, the pandemic has brought many tragic deaths which has inevitably affected so many.
10th September World Suicide Prevention Day
This year the focus on prevention is captured in ‘Creating hope through action’. Samaritans will be asking people to share the things they do to feel ‘hopeful’ when they are going through a difficult time.
This positive campaign can be an opportunity to talk with colleagues and people drawing on services, a chance to share tips and strategies which have helped people to improve their mental health and find a way to cope through difficult times.
Asking a question
The campaign poses the question, ‘What helps you to stay hopeful when you’re struggling?
This question could:
- Encourage 1-1 conversation
- Create a topic for group activity or team meetings
- Help generate a community collection of ‘top tips’ to support staff and people drawing on the service
- Be shared on your social media to involve family and friends
- Create an art project to help people express where they find ‘hope’
It’s OK to not be OK
Giving space and time for people to talk may mean individuals want to share how they are feeling. Samaritans give an easy to remember acronym SHUSH to help you actively listen.
If you suspect someone may be suicidal
Mind say: ‘Asking someone if they feel suicidal or are planning to end their life may not feel like the right thing to do but in fact professionals do recommend asking direct questions about suicide.’
The Samaritans website echoes this, ‘If you’re worried someone is suicidal, it’s okay to ask them directly. Research shows that this helps – because it gives them permission to tell you how they feel and shows that they are not a burden.’
Your setting should have a policy which sets out what to do if a person using the service is suicidal and how to support people’s mental health. You can also find helpful resources at the end of this article for friends and family.
How are you feeling?
Sometimes it can be difficult to say how you are feeling when you are in a job caring for others. If you are having suicidal feelings don’t let them grow in the dark. Give people the permission to care by sharing how you are feeling and let them support you to find hope.
- Samaritans Call 116 123 or text: https://www.samaritans.org/
- Mental Health Foundation: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
- Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/need-urgent-help/using-this-tool
- AgeUK: https://www.ageuk.org.uk
- The Prince’s Responsible Business Network: Reducing the risk of suicide: a toolkit for employers
- Mental Health First Aid England: https://mhfaengland.org/
- Zero Suicide Alliance: SHARE consent, confidentiality and information sharing in mental healthcare and suicide prevention
Resources for 10th September World Suicide Prevention Day