Thursday, 10th September is World Suicide Awareness and Prevention Day. Last year, we marked this day with a screening of the documentary film ‘Steve’ alongside a panel of experts, that was attended by over 70 people.
This year looks very different as we will not be able to raise vital awareness in the same way, yet it is more important than ever that we do.
COVID-19 has effected all of our lives in different ways and brought challenges and disruptions with it. Many of the most common triggers for poor mental health have been exacerbated during this time – financial and health worries, sleep, disruption to routines and increased isolation. There have been various media reports and surveys commissioned to determine the mental health impact of the Coronavirus but the truth is that the long-term effects are still largely unknown. What is evident, however, is that the impact is far reaching and that mental health services have to adapt and prepare for what the World Health Organisation predict will be a global mental health pandemic.
It is a widely documented statistic that globally there is one death by suicide every two hours. 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). You may think that this is an issue that does not affect you, however suicide has a ripple effect, which impacts far and wide.
Our priority as a mental health charity is to encourage you to have a conversation with someone you are concerned about. A caring conversation can help save a life and as individuals and a community, we all have a part to play. 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.
Our ethos is one of early intervention, promoting positive mental wellbeing and supporting you to stay well. We look in detail at stress, anxiety and depression as areas where we can educate ourselves to spot the signs in ourselves and others before they escalate. By definition stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them (Health and Safety Executive). While stress is not in itself a diagnosable mental health condition, it becomes a problem for us when it starts to impact our ability to live our everyday lives and the physical and emotional manifestations are acutely apparent. The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting, meaning that once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal and our physical symptoms abate.
When this doesn’t happen and we continue to feel this way regularly, then it is time to seek support. Being able to recognise these signs and symptoms in ourselves and others is crucial, as anxiety can develop when the reaction we have is out of proportion to the threat and starts to impact our lives. In turn high levels of anxiety can lead to depression. Learning what our natural stress response pattern is and being able to introduce self-care and healthier coping strategies is one way that we can all help ourselves stay mentally healthy.
We have now developed two short workshops on ‘Understanding Stress’ and ‘Anxiety and Understanding Depression’ that are open to everyone to attend. Self-care isn’t selfish and it is essential that we are disciplined in implementing coping strategies that we need to help us stay well.
Everyone’s experience of mental ill-health 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 a full list of support resources here: www.westkentmind.org.uk/community-development/useful-resources.
Need help now?
If you are feeling suicidal or in need of immediate support please call 999, the Samaritans on 116 123 or go to your nearest A&E department.
For more information on our services, please visit:
• firstname.lastname@example.org (for enquiries about courses for
individuals or organisations)
• email@example.com (for general enquiries or support)
Upcoming Events & Training
Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) certified courses:
Our next available course starts on Monday, 12th October. This is a mix of self-led online learning at your own pace and live, instructor-led online learning sessions spread over a two week period. £185 per person. Please email for firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
• Wednesday 30 September, 10am-12noon, via Zoom. £55 per person
Understanding Stress & Anxiety
• Thursday, 8th October 10-11.30am via Zoom. £40 per person
• Thursday, 15th October 10-11am via Zoom. £35 per person
Children and Young Person’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Workshops.
West Kent Mind are pleased to have been awarded funding to provide half-day Children and Young People Suicide Awareness and Prevention workshops. We will be offering this valuable training to hundreds of people across Kent and Medway.
The workshops are suitable for anyone interested in the mental health and well being of children and young people. This includes people who work or volunteer with children and young people, as well as individuals who want to learn more about how to support children and young people.
We will be running 17 sessions between September and December, please email us if you would be interested in attending.