⚠️ This page discusses suicide prevention. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please speak to your doctor as soon as possible, call 111 in the UK or 999 if an emergency. Samaritans are also available 24/7 on 116 123.
10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Suicide remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide, according to WHO’s latest estimates. In 2019, more than 700 000 people died by suicide: one in every 100 deaths, prompting WHO to produce new guidance to help countries improve suicide prevention and care. (We also know that deaths by suicide are under reported in some countries.) WHO’s key findings also revealed:
- For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
- Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds.
Data also highlights that, across countries, estimates show suicide rates are still much higher among men than women, though it is believed more women make suicide attempts than men, and there is an increasing risk among women and girls. Reasons people may attempt suicide vary, though financial pressures are believed to remain a consistent factor for men, and for women being subjected to domestic abuse. There is also some research to suggest that people among the LGBT+ community may be at higher risk of suicide.
The subject of suicide has long been a taboo, with people often too ashamed to talk about both feelings of suicide and being bereaved this way. The message from World Suicide Prevention Day is that it’s ok to say how you feel: to talk about your feelings, and to ask for help.
Help is available
Organisations like Samaritans exist to help people cope with feelings of suicide. They are available 24 hours a day in the UK, on 116 123, to listen non-judgementally and in confidence. Websites like The Calm Zone and Papyrus are also there to help prevent suicide. Shout is a text service that’s also available in the UK, on 85258.
Worried about someone else
Friends and families of those feeling suicidal can also help by checking in with their loved ones regularly, and allow them to talk about their feelings. It can be difficult to know what to say to someone you’re worried about, but it’s important to listen, and try not to fix. If you are worried they may be thinking about suicide, it’s ok to ask – the video from SAMH explains below.
Many people who are thinking about suicide often feel like a burden when they’re struggling with their mental health, so don’t assume they’ll check in with you. Here are some listening tips that may be useful. Samaritans also make it very clear that how we talk about suicide safely online matters.
In all cases, avoid judgement and encourage visits to the doctor and referrals to relevant mental health services. Resources like this one can from Heads Together can help with tips for talking. You may also find this list of links of other agencies helpful. Remember to look after yourself, when taking care of others too.
Copyright Delphi Ellis, Updated 2023
Delphi is the author of Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal, out now on Amazon and Hive.
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