We all have a role to play
By Christine Raiswell
Suicide is a huge public health concern and in England around 13 people take their own lives every day. This has a devastating impact on family, friends, colleagues and communities.
Suicide is also an issue of poverty and inequality.
People in the lowest socioeconomic group and living in the most deprived geographical areas are 10 times more at risk of suicide than those in the highest socio-economic group living in the most affluent areas. Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women and most people who die by suicide are not in touch with Mental Health Services. There are specific factors too that may increase the risk of suicide including previous self harm, alcohol and drug use, financial difficulties or having experienced abuse. There is growing evidence too of increased risk amongst specific groups such as LGBT and refugees and asylum seekers.
Suicide prevention can be achieved but it needs everyone to play their part and for it not to be seen as just an issue for mental health services. e.g. Network Rail has being making a significant contribution to suicide prevention in Manchester and across the country both through physical measures such as preventing access to tracks and bridges and working in partnership with Samaritans to train their staff to offer emotional support to people in distress who they may come across.
On World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th, we want to raise awareness about suicide and what people can do to support those who are struggling to cope.
Often people lack confidence to talk to people about suicidal thoughts because they don’t know what to say, or may be afraid that asking about it or mentioning may make it more likely that someone will complete suicide. This is not the case. Providing an opportunity for someone to explore suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. It is common and perfectly normal for people to have suicidal thoughts.
Here are some tips about supporting someone who you suspect may be suicidal
Ask if they are thinking about suicide – be direct in a caring and supportive way
Listen and let them know you care – let the person talk about their feelings and listen carefully to what they have to say. Try to understand why they are feeling this way.
Encourage them to get help – there is help for people to move forwards with hope. Encourage the person to make an appointment with their GP, call Samaritans on 123 116 (free to call) or contact the Sanctuary 0300 003 7029 (Mental Health support for adults in a crisis or those experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, depression or suicidal thoughts – for residents of Manchester, Trafford, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Glossop, Wigan and Leigh and Bolton)
Right now – if the person is at immediate risk of harm do not leave them alone call 999 or take them to the nearest hospital Accident and Emergency department
Take care of yourself – supporting someone who is suicidal can be distressing and draining. Look after your own physical and mental wellbeing and talk to a friend or family member
Click on the link to see Manchester’s suicide prevention plan
For more information about suicide prevention in Manchester contact Christine Raiswell, Population Health and Wellbeing Team, Manchester Health and Social Care Commissioning.
If you are struggling to cope, help is available in Manchester here.