It’s difficult to talk about, we don’t like to talk about it, but it’s so important to talk about.
What is it? The answer is suicide.
Why is it important to talk about? Because it is, in many cases, a preventable death.
10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day and in 2021 the theme is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’
There has been much work over recent years to raise awareness around mental health and this has been vital in both bringing to the fore the need for a range of formal and informal mental health support services for all and showing ways to spot signs and symptoms in people experiencing emotional distress.
As an instructor for Mental Health First Aid England myself, I have witnessed the benefits first-hand of raising awareness around mental health and it has been humbling to be a contribution to this education process and see delegates gain confidence around the topic.
However, over the last 18 months, as awareness has increased plus the reality that more people require support following the trauma of a global pandemic, I’ve become increasingly aware for the need for not just awareness, but moving to a place where people can confidently take action to support themselves and others.
Awareness is fantastic, it is necessary, but what is more important and more necessary is the ability to have the confidence and skills to take action and say and do the things in practical terms to signpost people to the help they need.
This is the message of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day. By taking action, not just being aware of someone’s distress we can help move people to a place of safety from a place of danger. We can give them an option to not just choose between life and death but to take a moment to pause, consider options and get the support they need.
By taking action we give people hope and hope is an anchor on which they can secure their recovery.
So what do we do if we suspect someone may be having thoughts of suicide? It takes courage but the best thing you can do is to ask them. Be non-judgemental but direct. Don’t just ask them if they are having thoughts of suicide but be direct enough to ask them if they are thinking of ending their life.
It’s a myth that if you ask someone about suicide it will give them the idea to engage in suicidal behaviours. In fact, the opposite could be true in that your questions shows you have noticed their distress and gives them a sense of release.
But remember, by asking that poignant question you do not take on their pain and distress, their recovery is not for you to direct, you help signpost them to the support they need.
An intervention like this can take as little as 20 minutes and by asking the question you may just have saved their life. That makes you a superhero.
If you would like more support or information around mental health or suicide prevention, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Much love, Tabby xxx