World Suicide Prevention Day is marked on 10th September each year and this year the theme is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’. This is an important reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire a confidence and light in all of us; that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.
Preventing suicide is often possible and the message is that we can all play a part in its prevention.
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. 1 in 5 people have thought about suicide at some time in their life and not all people who die by suicide have mental health problems at the time they die, although many do suffer with their mental health, typically to a serious degree (Source: Samaritans).
When we consider that 1 in 4 of us will experience mental ill-health in any given year, then all of us will be working, living or socialising with someone who needs support.
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. Being able to remain calm 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.
You do not need to be a mental health professional to have a conversation about suicide, but being open, honest, empathic and allowing yourself to connect with your own vulnerability can have a profound effect.
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 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.
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 at www.westkentmind.org.uk/what-we-offer/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