It’s day 10 of #SelfCareSeptember. This week I took part in some Risk and Suicide training this week at work. It was a challenging day but I am very lucky to work with a really amazing and supporting team so it was easier to manage a really challenging but vitally important piece of training.
According to the Mental Health Foundation:
- More than 55,000 people end their own lives in the European Union each year
- In England the figure is 4,722, one death every two hours and at least 10 times that number attempt suicide
The International Association for Suicide Prevention also provide statistics about suicide internationally:
- Every year over 800,000 people die from suicide (roughly one death every 40 seconds), this number exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined
- Suicide is the 15th leading cause of death globally
- It is estimated that during 2012, for each adult who died of a suicide attempt, there were over 20 others who attempted to take their lives
- Suicide rates are elevated amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination e.g. refugees, LGBTQ people, individuals who have been in prison
During our training, we covered some of the warning signs we would look for in a young person that indicated risk around suicidal intent or ideation, not everyone who attempts to take their life will show any of the following warning signs, but they are worth noting and being aware of in others and yourself:
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Persistent low mood or hopelessness
- Talking about suicide or having a plan- note people with suicidal intent will often not disclose any plan for fear of being stopped
- Spending time in unhelpful places such as websites promoting suicide
- Struggling to manage self care- such as poor personal hygiene
- Sometimes people will be very distressed but then become calm if they have a plan in place
- Disconnection from others
There are also risk factors that are associated with risk of suicide:
- Co-morbidities such as depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders or other mental health problems or chronic health problems
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Family history
- Access to means to attempt suicide
- Major life events
- Level of cognition or understanding about suicide
- Fundamental needs not being met
- Abuse or trauma (both historic and present)
- Being in a high risk group (e.g. young males)
- A friend or a family member attempting or committing suicide
Suicide isn’t a comfortable topic to talk about and there is still a great deal of stigma associated with it. Suicidal thoughts and feelings are horrible but there is a great deal of support out there to help you when you are struggling.
This video was created by the Mental Health Foundation in 2012 to raise awareness and spread the message that it is possible to overcome suicidal thoughts and feelings and there is support and resources to help people who are struggling.
So what is the relevance to #SelfCareSeptember? My tip for today is to have a think about what your own warning signs are that your mental health isn’t great or that you’re beginning to get a bit overwhelmed with your emotions or life is getting to you a little. Getting support early can help prevent a crisis and help de-escalate anything before you get really stuck.
If you’re really struggling, who can you turn to?
- Samaritans- 08457 90 90 90
- Childline- 0800 1111
- Papyrus- 0800 068 41 41
- Depression Alliance
- Students Against Depression
Talk to someone you trust or make an appointment to see you GP or another healthcare professional. People often say suicide is selfish, but it’s a reaction to feeling hopeless or overwhelmed, it’s a sign of someone who is very poorly and needs help. Take a moment to check on a friend who’s got a lot on their plate or drop a message to someone who is low. Everyone deserves support and kindness.
Also check out my previous blog about talking about suicide or read about The Self Esteem Team’s Switch on the light campaign which aims to encourage men to talk about their feelings and decrease their vulnerability to poor mental health and even suicide.
We need to keep talking to help save lives.