A challenging topic for this, our second column, but it is of utmost importance and a conversation that we all need to be part of.
It is a sad reality that statistics show that globally there is one death by suicide every two hours – and many more people are thought to attempt suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years in the UK and it is considerably higher in men, with around three times as many men dying as a result of suicide compared to women.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50 in the UK. Those at highest risk are men aged between 40 and 44 years. Within Kent specifically, it is the leading killer of men under 45. (Sources: Mind, Releasethepressure.uk)
As a local mental health charity, we see it as our duty to educate our community and to ensure everyone knows where they can turn to get support when they need it. As our readers, you are all likely members of sports clubs, groups and social committees and we believe that you can make a difference.
You may think that this is an issue that does not affect you, however suicide has a ripple effect, which impacts far and wide. There is no room for complacency when it comes to promoting good mental health and early intervention.
Our main message is do not be afraid. If you sense that something isn’t quite right with a family member, friend, colleague or acquaintance, then act on your instinct and start a conversation.
The key elements of support are empathy and listening without judgement. Keeping calm yourself is essential. While a hard question to pose, the best question is a direct one and this is where your help and signposting can begin.
West Kent Mind have been working closely with Kent County Council’s Suicide prevention team and have received funding to deliver a programme of Children and Young Persons Suicide Awareness and Prevention workshops. Including these workshops, we have trained around 1500 individuals since 2017 and we hope to continue this vital work going forward.
Through our work with KCC, we have had the privilege to get to know Ben Akers and hear the story behind his documentary film, Steve. The film follows Ben, as he tries to channel his own grief, on a journey to help all men understand and respect their mental health. Ben goes on a mission up and down the country to try to find some good from something so bad. He begins by talking to Steve’s family, then health professionals in the industry, and finally, ordinary men who are suffering – often in silence. From there he explores the solutions with people who are using their experiences to create positive change. Ultimately this is a film of hope, trying to push us all on from mental health awareness to mental health action.
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday 10th September 2019, West Kent Mind are hosting an educational community event. We believe everyone has a part to play and we hope to impart skills and knowledge to our community. We will be hosting a screening of “Steve”, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with a number of leading experts. We would love to see as many of our readers there as possible and welcome your support.
Everyone’s experience of suicidal feelings is unique to them. These feelings may build over time or might change from moment to moment. It is also common to not understand why you are feeling this way. If you are experiencing suicidal feelings then we want you to know that you are not alone. Should you be concerned for yourself or for someone you know, please find below a list of contacts and resources.
As always, we thank you for reading and for your continued support.