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You never know who’s struggling.

How you can help yourself and others with mental wellbeing in times of difficulty.

This week it is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide claims the lives of around 6000 people per year in the UK and is the leading cause of death for men under 50. For every completed suicide, there are around 20 attempted suicides. This is perhaps a reflection of the levels of mental health suffering in the world.

You never know who’s struggling.

How you can help yourself and others with mental well-being in times of difficulty.

This week it is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide claims the lives of around 6000 people per year in the UK and is the leading cause of death for men under 50. For every completed suicide, there are around 20 attempted suicides. This is perhaps a reflection of the levels of mental health suffering in the world.

What can cause suicidal thoughts?

You may assume that suicide is something that represents the extremes of people with mental illness. However, we know that many people who experience suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide do not have a long, enduring or severe mental illness. There can be a multitude of reasons that lead to people having suicidal thoughts and ending their life. Many of the factors can be new challenges changing situations and difficulties that we all face at some point in our life. Such as relationship breakdowns, financial difficulties, loss, adverse life events, isolation and loneliness. Many of these situations present us with emotional responses, and challenging thoughts that affect our behaviours.

The impact and levels of suffering associated with suicide for those experiencing it and those around them cannot be understated.

So what can we do to help?

There is sadly no single thing that we can do. There is no guaranteed solution. However, there are things we can do and keep in mind that may be helpful. 

  • Be aware. You never know who may be struggling – the experience of suicidal thoughts is more common than you might think. You never know if the random stranger on the train, your work colleagues, or your loved ones may be struggling. 
  • People will at times need additional support – this is true for even the most emotionally robust of people. Although, people don’t always recognise this need or come forward with this need. 
  • The Troop can help – having a safe and supportive group of people around you, who have your back, who can help with life difficulties, who can be there to talk with is perhaps one of the biggest protective factors against suicide. 
  • Just talk about it – we are often not the best at talking about how we are feeling and what we experience. We’re perhaps not the best at making the time and asking people either. However, we know how important it is to talk through and express our difficulties and struggles. When it comes to suicide we tend to be even worse at simply asking. That is sometimes from a fear that we will make things worse. You will not make it worse by talking about it. Quite the opposite. You may end up helping that person in the moment to feel connected, and supported. You may end up preventing their suicide. 

There is lots of support out there – Mental health services evoke all sorts of impressions. As a psychiatrist, I have heard all the stereotypes and I can assure you that they are far from reality. Mental health professionals are there and available to help you and your loved ones. You can access them by seeing your GP, attending A&E or calling NHS 111. There are also some great helplines out there such as The Samaritans.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world since 2003.

Find out more

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