Mental health awareness week: Suicide prevention

There are many reasons why people have suicidal thoughts but we all have a role to play in preventing suicide – whether we are health professionals, teachers, friends, parents or work colleagues.

We know that talking about suicide saves lives. The vast majority of those thinking about suicide will find some way to signal their intent. At least 50% of people who die by suicide express suicidal thoughts beforehand, usually to a family member.

Most suicidal people are looking for another option. They don't want to die. But preventing suicide takes two people—a helper and the person at risk.

Sara Munro, director for quality and patient safety at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust , explains that the vast majority of people who die by suicide are not seeking professional help at the time of their death:

“In Cumbria the number of people who die by suicide is slightly higher than the national average, and we know that most people who do die this way are not in contact with mental health services at the time. National research has shown that only a third of people who commit suicide are in current contact with mental health services. This highlights that while mental health services undoubtedly have a vital role to play, often the prompt for a person to get help needs to come from outside the NHS this is why preventing suicide is everyone’s business.”

If more people know the signs to look for and how to help there’s a chance that we can reduce the numbers of people who die by suicide in Cumbria.

Some of the signs that would suggest someone needs help are

  • Lacking energy or feeling tired
  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Feeling tearful
  • Not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things

There are a number of different reason that a person could become suicidal and research has shown they the reasons centre around

  • Social factors, e.g. social isolation, unemployment, or how suicides are reported in the media and cultural attitudes to suicide
  • Psychological factors, e.g. loss of close relationships, childhood trauma
  • Biological/physical factors, e.g. chronic pain, tinnitus and intoxication with drugs.

It’s ok not to be ok, but no one should feel like they should suffer on their own.

If a person can’t speak to someone they know here are some organisations that can help

The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and can offer help and support. Their number is 08457 90 90 90 * (UK) Or you can email them  or even write to them Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, Chris, PO Box 90 90, Stirling, FK8 2SA

PAPYRUS is the national UK charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. Call: 0800 068 41 41 (not 24 hours) Email: SMS: 07786 209697

SOBS (Survivors Of Bereavement by Suicide) is a self-help, voluntary organisation. Many of those helping have, themselves, been bereaved by suicide.  National Helpline 0300 111 5065 9am to 9pm every day

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST LIVING MISERABLY, or CALM, is a registered charity, which exists to prevent male suicide in the UK.  Their helpline is open 365 days a year from 5pm until midnight  0800 58 58 58 they also offer online help here

We know that stigma surrounding emotional distress, mental health problems and suicidal thoughts is still prevalent in our society, if we can encourage more people to talk about their feelings we can also reduce the stigma attached to mental health.