Suicide is often a topic people choose to avoid talking about for many reasons. Sometimes we might not talk about it because it can be upsetting, sometimes we might avoid talking about it because there’s still a lot of stigma. Whatever the reason, it’s really important that we do talk about suicide in a way that raises awareness and educates. The more we talk about it, the more we can prevent it.
At Everyturn, we recently introduced Zero Suicide Alliance’s Suicide Awareness Training course to our learning academy for our colleagues. This means that all our colleagues feel aware, informed, and confident in having what could be a potentially life-saving conversation with someone.
It’s so important to have open and judgement-free conversations around suicide. The more we talk about suicide, the more we can raise awareness and prevent it.
What is suicide?
Suicide means when someone ends their own life.
If someone is feeling suicidal, they may have a range of emotions and thoughts, and act in many different ways. Some of these might be:
- Thoughts about not wanting to be here anymore
- Feeling helpless
- Feeling desperate
- Making plans about how and when to end their life
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Taking part in risky things
- Anxious and/or depressed
- Feeling frightened
- Feeling confused
These are just some examples of how someone feeling suicidal might think and act. There isn’t one size fits all. Similarly, there is no single cause of suicide. There isn’t just one reason why people feel suicidal – lots of factors can contribute to someone being at risk.
What are some of the reasons that someone would want to end their life?
There are lots of different reasons why people die by suicide, and it’s important to recognise the risk factors that could make suicide more likely. Some of these might be:
- Previous suicide attempts, or past experiences of self-harm
- Having a mental health problem, such as depression
- Having a physical health problem, such as chronic pain
- Life events that were really difficult such abuse or trauma
- Current life events that are life-changing and hard to cope with, such as the death of a loved one, or a relationship breakdown
- Struggling with money or being unemployed
- Living alone or feeling socially isolated
- Struggling with drug or alcohol use
Gender can also have an impact on why people die by suicide.
Transgender and non-binary
A 2018 report by LGBTQ+ charity, Stonewall, found that almost half of trans people have thought about taking their own life in the last year, with 31 per cent of LGBT people who aren’t trans saying the same.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) state that 75% of all UK suicides are male. In 2019, the leading cause of death for men aged 20-49 in the UK was suicide.
A report by Samaritans shows that suicidal thoughts and behaviours tend to be more common among women, and women are more likely to self-harm compared to men. Research shows that people who do self-harm are more likely to make a suicide attempt than people with no history of self-harm.
If I feel suicidal, what can I do?
If you’re thinking about ending your own life, it’s really important you tell someone.
If you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose – or you feel that you may be about to harm yourself, call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E.
Or ask someone else to call 999 or take you to A&E.
If you’re feeling down and need someone to talk to, there are lots of free helplines you can contact. You’re never alone in what you’re going through.
You can find a list of helplines and text message lines to contact via the NHS website here. You can also contact these helplines if you need advice for someone you’re worried about.
Call 116 123
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page
Text “SHOUT” to 85258
It can be helpful to have a support system in place, so you can have someone you trust to talk to if you’re feeling suicidal. Friends, family and colleagues might be able to offer you support when you’re not feeling safe.
We understand that it can feel difficult to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, and it might feel easier for you to talk to someone you don’t know – and that’s okay. You could call your GP and ask for an emergency appointment or contact 111 out of hours to get the support and help you need. If you have a mental health crisis team, you could also contact them for help.
I’m worried that someone else might be suicidal, what can I do?
A conversation could be life-saving!
If you’re going to start a conversation with someone that you’re worried about, try to make it a judgment free, safe space. Sometimes we might worry that we’ll make someone feel worse by asking them if they’re suicidal, but it’s important to be direct. Asking directly can make the person feel more able to open up.
They might need help with practical stuff, such as calling their family and friends, contacting their GP, and even household tasks.
It can be useful to help them create a crisis/safety plan, so they remember who they can call for help, and ways to cope if they feel like this again.
Do remember that it is important to give yourself time to process the information, and that as a friend or family member you can’t do everything. If you feel that someone needs professional help, it can be helpful to signpost to one of the helplines/text lines listed above.
We really hope this article has been helpful, and we hope that if you are struggling, you get the support you need as soon as possible. You never have to struggle alone.
For World Suicide Prevention Day, Adam Crampsie, Chief Executive here at Everyturn, had three incredibly moving conversations with three different people who have all lost someone to suicide. In these conversations, Adam gets to know Steve, Angela, and Jayne and listens to their experiences of loss. They also talk about the work they are doing to raise awareness and help people who are feeling suicidal or grieving the loss of a loved one. Conversations like this are so important to have and be heard, and we’re so grateful to Steve, Angela and Jayne for taking the time to share their experiences with us.
These podcast episodes will be available to watch and listen to during the week of the 11th September by visiting https://www.everyturn.org/its-all-mental-podcast/
To find out more about Steve, Angela and Jayne’s work towards suicide prevention and support for loved ones, head on over to the links below:
Steve Phillip and The Jordan Legacy: https://thejordanlegacy.com/
Angela Allen and BAGS for Strife: https://www.bagsforstrife.co.uk/
Jayne Walsham and Baton of Hope: https://batonofhopeuk.org/jayne-walsham/