Thursday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. This is an important day for raising awareness and encouraging conversations about what continues to be a taboo subject. Personally, I believe that it is vital that we talk about suicide, as this can help people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts to open up and access the help that could save their life.
In 2018 there were 6,507 deaths by suicide registered in the UK, three quarters of which were men with those aged 45-49 most at risk.
Depression makes us think in negative, distorted ways and feel hopeless. It’s understandable that at times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed by problems and can’t see a way out, our thoughts may turn to suicide. When you are in a pit of depression it may feel like suicide is the only way out, but this is the depression talking, not reality.
Remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Reach out and speak to someone – this may be a friend or family member, your GP or a helpline (see below). It can be useful to have these ‘emergency contact’ phone numbers saved in your phone so they are easily there when you need. If you feel you are at immediate risk of harming yourself then go to your local A&E department.
When having suicidal thoughts you may start to think of things you could do to harm yourself, there are practical steps you can take to make it less likely that you will act on these thoughts. For example don’t stock pile medication, if you need medication for health conditions then ask your GP to give you a limited supply at a time or ask someone else to look after it for you. Remove any items which you are thinking of harming yourself with, again give them to someone else or put them in a place which is difficult to get to. Avoid taking drugs or drinking alcohol when you are feeling suicidal as these can make mood worse and make us more likely to behave impulsively.
Notice if there are any particular situations that tend to trigger suicidal thoughts such as arguments with your partner or anniversaries of the death of a loved one. Prepare for these situations…
Make yourself an emergency ‘mental health first aid’ kit consisting of things which you know sooth you e.g. photos of happy times with loved ones, a pet or favourite places; calming music, a relaxation track, aromatherapy oils, a favourite scarf/blanket, comforting foods etc.
If you are worried about someone else who you think may be feeling suicidal then please reach out to them, maybe even share this article with them. The important thing is to let them know they are not alone.
Samaritans: 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign Against Living Miserably: 0800 58 58 58
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide: 0300 111 5065