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Suicide Awareness

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Medical Health

Author: Kirsty Lilley, Posted: Monday, 26th February 2024, 09:00

Over the last three years, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has championed ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ with the theme of ‘creating hope through action’.

Suicide is a difficult subject to discuss, but it is vital that we continue to raise awareness and create supportive environments in which people feel safe enough to reach out for help if they are feeling suicidal.

Whilst suicide rates vary across the UK, men have accounted for more deaths by suicide than women, and it is the largest cause of death for men aged between 20 and 49. Men represent 75% of deaths by suicide, which has been consistent since the mid 1990s.

Women are most at risk of suicide between the ages of 50 and 54, although the data shows that suicide has been the leading cause of death for both males and females aged between 20-34 for several decades. Rates have increased for both males and females amongst the under 25s.

There are consistent risk factors

The reasons why someone might take their own life are complex and cannot be drilled down to a single cause, though there are consistent risk factors. These might include: difficult and traumatic life events such as early-life emotional or physical abuse; drug or alcohol misuse; relationship problems; loneliness and reduced social contact; having a physical health condition which causes chronic pain or disability; and financial problems.

Talking to someone about suicide will not increase the risk of them taking their own life, nor increase their suicidal thoughts and feelings. On the contrary, creating a supportive space in which a person can express their feelings is often the first step in getting them the help they might need.

Explore the options for professional support

If you are concerned about someone, try not to be judgemental, and avoid criticising them for feeling this way or using guilt as a way of preventing them taking negative action. Instead, let them know you care, empathise, listen well, and explore all the options for getting appropriate professional support.

If a person is in imminent danger, ensure they are not left alone whilst you try to get help. Supporting someone who is in so much distress can be stressful, so make sure that you get support for yourself too.

Signs that someone may be struggling in this way can be difficult to spot, but don’t ignore your gut feeling if you think someone is at risk. There are indications that someone might be more at risk which include: threatening to hurt or kill themselves; talking or writing about death or suicide; putting affairs in order such as giving away belongings or making a will.

Don’t minimise someone’s feelings

Many people try to open up to someone before they take their own lives, so if someone opens up in this way don’t ignore it or minimise it in any way. It is also important to recognise that some people will not be open to sharing their feelings.

Encourage anyone who is struggling to contact their GP. The Samaritans offer a 24-hour listening service and can be contacted on the number 116 123. Their website offers a wide variety of help and support.

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