Did you know that every 40 seconds, someone somewhere in the world loses their life to suicide? This equates to around 800,000 deaths a year globally.
Suicide is believed to be the main cause of death in teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 29, and the most common group of people who take their own life are aged between 45 and 64, with men more likely to do so than women.
There may be many factors that lead a person to consider suicidal behaviour, including social, psychological, physical or cultural influence. For some people it is to escape a seemingly irreparable situation or to relieve pain or incapacity, while for others it may be to relieve overwhelming emotions, thoughts or feelings.
Unfortunately, perceived stigmas around mental health mean many people feel unable to seek the help they need. They might feel like they’ve let themselves or others down, or like they don’t want to be seen as a burden or failure. They may question their continued existence or what the point of living is, unable to see how things could ever get better. They may think that no one cares about them, or those who do care would be better off without them.
For many of these people, death seemed like their only option. But we’re here to tell you that you always have another option.
With the right level of support at the right time, many of these deaths could have been prevented, avoiding the devastating impact on friends, family, colleagues and communities.
Do you have suicidal thoughts?
When experiencing suicidal thoughts, taking the first step towards seeking support is the most important thing you can do.
It’s important to talk to someone you trust. It isn’t easy telling someone you have suicidal thoughts, so if you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family, there are a number of non-judgemental, safe and impartial organisations you can speak to.
And while you may find it difficult to express the extent of your thoughts of self-harm to loved ones, letting them know you are struggling means they can know what’s going on, and may be able to offer you support and help to keep you safe.
Having a support or safety plan in place can often be useful and help provide coping strategies, especially while you’re waiting for professional support. This plan should help you to recognise the important aspects of suicide prevention, including life-promotion and self care. It may include some of the following:
- Coping strategies for focusing on getting through today
- Trying to avoid drugs or alcohol
- Identifying a safe, judgement-free space, like a friend’s house
- Being around other people as much as possible
- Exercising (read more about the use of physical activity in the treatment of depression here)
- Doing something you really enjoy
- Practising relaxation or mindfulness
If you are concerned about someone
If you are worried that someone may be thinking about suicide, talk to them and ask them about how they are feeling. Ask twice if you have to. Whilst this conversation might be difficult or feel a little uncomfortable it can often be enough to prevent someone from acting on their suicidal thoughts. Helping someone by listening without judging them and supporting them to consider options to deal with their feelings can make a big difference to the way that someone thinks and feels.
It is important to remember that you should not try to solve someone’s issues or give advice but encourage them to seek professional support. If someone tries to end their life, this is not your fault.
If someone is in crisis you should contact the local Mental Health Crisis team or take them to the local A&E. Caring for a family member or a friend that is feeling suicidal can be very stressful and can impact your own sleep, emotional health and wellbeing, so it is important that you take care of yourself the best you can during this challenging time and seek support if you need it.
Is your life in danger?
If you have seriously harmed yourself, for example by taking a drug overdose, or you’re putting plans in place to take your own life, call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E. Or if you can’t do so yourself, ask someone else to do so for you.
Where to seek help
Find 24-hour support and information services via the NHS website.
Call the Samaritans for free on 116 123, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a reply within 24 hours
Text “Shout” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line
Have a live webchat with the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) or phone between 5pm and midnight on 0800 585 858.
Under 35s can contact Papyrus, a charity that specialises in preventing young suicides. Call 0800 068 4141 between Monday and Friday or email email@example.com.
Have you lost a loved one to suicide?
The loss of someone you love to suicide can be extremely traumatic and painful, especially when approaching birthdays, anniversaries or other memorable dates, all of which can trigger painful feelings. The way in which we grieve is personal and we all need to find a way that is right for us.
Talking and sharing memories with friends or families can be helpful, as can sharing your experience with others who have been through something similar. There are many organisations that can help you to find support groups in your local community or provide professional help, including the following:
How can The Fire Fighters Charity help?
If you are experiencing poor mental health, or you’re worried about a loved one, we are here to support you and help prevent things reaching crisis support.
Our Psychological Services team can offer telephone or online counselling or we can just listen to understand your needs and signpost you to the most appropriate level of support. We can also offer residential breaks at Harcombe House to take part in our holistic group sessions.
You’re not alone.