Spotlight On...Suicide

 

If you are feeling suicidal...

  • Are you in immediate danger? If you are, or you have done anything already to harm yourself call 999. This is the first step to getting and staying safe.

  • Pause any intention to act for a period of time: It can feel too much to abandon all thoughts of suicide at once and trying to do so may make you feel more trapped. But the intensity of the emotion can subside – feelings are temporary but suicide is very permanent. That’s why giving yourself a day or two before you act on any impulses can be really important, and may give you the space to find a bit of hope.

  • Make your home safe: Remove anything that may allow you to harm yourself when you are at your most vulnerable.

  • Tell someone: If there is someone close to you who you trust tell them. It can be very scary confiding such dark thoughts to those you love but it is often the first step towards lifting the darkness. If it is too overwhelming to speak to someone you know reach out to someone you don’t: the SamaritansPapyrus (for younger people), Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), your GP, mental health crisis teams.

  • Distraction: when the thoughts and feelings get overwhelming try to occupy your mind with something else. For some people this could be a puzzle, or music or a TV programme. It could be a walk or a smell of coffee or putting your face in some cold water. Papyrus has some good ideas of things you can try.

  • Look for things you can change: Many of the issues that have led to suicidal thoughts can be impossible to change but some may not be. Trying to please others, whether at work or at home, is something we can usually let go of. Some people look at whether there is a life they can imagine being able to lead, and then taking the first step towards it.

  • Make a safety plan – do this with someone you trust if possible, or with a GP/other professional. It might include phone numbers, distraction resources and an action plan. There are really good tutorials and tips at Staying Safe, and you can go through step by step how to create a plan. There is a good simple template at Every Life Matters too if you can print or you can order a paper copy

How you can help someone else…

 

  • Listen without judgement – this can be a very powerful thing when you are feeling suicidal. It is still such a taboo, especially when you have small children, that it tends to fester and grow in the shadows. Someone accepting this is how you feel won’t magic all your problems away but it will make you feel less isolated and cut off from the world and offer a glimpse of a way back.

  • Take it seriously – Sometimes, because it is hard to hear suicidal thoughts, we can try to pass it off as a “cry for help” or attention. In some ways it may be both these things but that does not mean the impulse isn’t genuine. Many people who talk about suicide go on to take their own lives, although many do not.

  • Don’t try to minimise or undermine the genuine pain being suffered – it can be very hard to see the world from a suicidal person’s point of view, especially when it might look to you like they have everything to live for. This doesn’t make their pain any less excruciating or genuine.

  • Ask open questions – and take time to listen to the answers. This allows the person to open up to you, rather than shut down or tell you what they think you want to hear.

  • Don’t avoid or skirt around the topic – Again it can be hard to be direct about such an upsetting topic but by doing so you help the person see that their feelings are understood, are shared by other people who have recovered and don’t make them a terrible person.

  • Try and stay calm – this is easier said than done, especially if the person confiding in you is a loved one. It is easy to feel anger, guilt, helplessness and sadness. It is ok to feel these things, but it may be more helpful to the suicidal person if you can seek support elsewhere. Staying calm will help them stay calm too, rather than further complicate their distress with guilt.

  • Try not to make assumptions – Your own experiences may be relevant and helpful, particularly if you have felt suicidal in the past. But it is vital you don’t assume you know what is going on, rather take time to find out. If we make incorrect assumptions it can make the person feel more isolated, less understood and more hopeless.

Facts and Figures:

  • 6507 people killed themselves in the UK in 2018 - that’s 17 people every day of the year, or 125 every week (on average)

  • Suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK

  • The highest suicide rates are in men aged 45-49

  • The suicide rate is rising for the first time since 2013, driven by increases in men and young people of all genders

  • Suicide is the biggest killer of mums in the first year after giving birth

  • In the UK, men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women

 

(Sources: Samaritans, Papyrus)

Resources

 

Every Life Matters: Cumbrian organisation which works to prevent suicide and support those who have lost a loved one to suicide. They have free resources and training as well as lots of practical tips for getting through, and a really good COVID wellbeing pack.

 

The Samaritans: Has a 24-hour helpline (116123) and an email chat service (jo@samaritans.org) if speaking to someone is too overwhelming.

 

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – Whilst their campaigning focus is on male suicide, their helplines and webchat are open to anyone, 0800 585858 5pm-midnight every day or they have a webchat page.

 

Papyrus – They focus on people under 35 and have a phone line (0800 0684141) Monday to Friday 9am – 10pm, weekends and bank holidays 2pm-10pm, and a text service (07860039967) and email service (pat@papyrus-org.uk). They also have a really good database of Apps that can help.

 

Mind – Side by Side is their new online community to support people with mental health problems (it replaces Elefriends from September 2020)

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