Every year, the International Association for Suicide Prevention organises World Suicide Prevention Day. Communities and organisations worldwide come together to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide. The day was conceived due to the large number of lives lost to suicide, something that with the right help is preventable.
A recent survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics placed Preston’s suicide rate as one of the highest in the UK with a person taking their own life every 17 days in the city, the majority of these being young to middle-aged men.
World Suicide Prevention Day falls on the 10th of September with 2019’s theme of ‘working together to prevent suicide’. The important theme aims to destigmatise mental health by encouraging discussion and collaboration. It is easy to regard suicide as a personal choice, but this is not the case. Anyone even contemplating suicide is suffering from mental ill-health and as a society we have a responsibility to look out for and support these people. Suicide is a community issue and no one should suffer alone, so here is how you can help a loved one, or yourself.
How you can help a loved one
If someone you know is going through a tough time, one of the most effective ways to help is by asking if they are ok. People often want to talk but struggle to start the conversation on their own, so having someone else bring up the subject can be a huge relief. Have a chat and encourage them to share any worries.
If you are concerned that someone is thinking about suicide, don’t be afraid to ask them directly. The best you can do is to listen and offer support in an understanding and non-judgemental way. If you feel you cannot offer your loved one the assistance they need, it is ok to encourage them to see their GP or point them towards qualified organisations aimed at improving mental health.
What to do if you are experiencing mental health issues
If you are struggling with low moods or suicidal thoughts, the best thing you can do is reach out to somebody. Talk to a friend or family member about what you are experiencing and contact your GP. If doing that feels too daunting, there are several services available to you.
Online you can find a wealth of resources on Lancashire Mind (http://www.lancashiremind.org.uk/need-help-now/), including a Freephone helpline. They offer a wide range of support and services for those experiencing difficulties first hand within the community.
For those seeking therapy, Mindsmatter (https://www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/Mindsmatter) provides talking therapy across Lancashire and even accepts self-referrals. Sessions can be done in person, over the phone and online, according to what is most suitable.
You can also find support in person at The Haven (https://www.facebook.com/RFHavenLancs), a community mental health service in Preston, which provides a safe and welcoming environment for people to visit when they are struggling with mental health. There is also the Preston branch of Samaritans (https://www.samaritans.org/wales/branches/preston/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI39ff4_-55AIVCbrtCh3UlAfkEAAYASAAEgImZ_D_BwE) on Saint Wilfrid Street. The branch is open every weekday evening until 9pm for in-person support.
Other places offering assistance
• https://www.p-a-c.org.uk/ – A Lancashire-based charity aimed at improving mental health wellbeing
• https://www.healthierlsc.co.uk/suicide-prevention – A partnership of organisations within Lancashire to help people live longer, healthier lives
• https://www.mind.org.uk/ – A national charity with information on mental health
• http://www.sane.org.uk/home – A national charity who can offer assistance via text
• 116 123 – the free Samaritans phone number, available to assist at any time
• https://www.elefriends.org.uk/ – A site that provides online community support