Ask Tell Save a Life - that is the message NHS Health Scotland is sending out to people in East Ayrshire to mark this year’s Suicide Prevention Week (9 – 15 September 2019).
NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland worked together to develop an online resource ‘Ask Tell Save a Life: Every Life Matters’ to support suicide prevention, as part of the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
This online resource aims to raise awareness of the issues that affect people and which can sometimes lead them to think about taking their own life. The animation is designed to increase the confidence of individuals to support anyone in distress, by directing them to the specialist help they need at that time.
Last year 26 people in East Ayrshire took their own lives. The emotional impact on families, friends and communities bereaved by suicide is devastating and can have long lasting negative effects on those left behind.
Whilst it is difficult to put an exact value on the economic and social cost of a suicide, a figure of £1.5 million per individual has been estimated (https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/zero-suicides).
The ripple effect on families, friends and communities adds another dimension, which would increase this figure dramatically.
We are asking everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. The message is:
….if you’re worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.
The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be difficult to spot, but encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously, even if it seems a person is living a normal life. It also assures people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.
People who have tried to take their life can teach us about how the words and actions of others are important. They often talk movingly about reaching the point where they could see no alternative but to take their own life. Despite this, they also had a strong desire to live but wanted someone to intervene and stop them from ending their life. By taking a minute to show you care and asking directly about suicide, you could change their life.
Linda Chisholm Suicide Prevention Lead in East Ayrshire said: “If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, you will normally notice. When changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – the most important aspect is to ask them about it.
“Talking openly about their feelings can help a person get clarity about what is troubling them. Starting this conversation helps them gain a perspective on their distress. You don’t need to have a solution to their problems – being there for them and listening, without judgement, shows that you care and their distress, and ultimately their happiness, is important to you.”
Linda added: “Ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought into their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to open up fully and acknowledge they need help and support. By taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life.”
Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “In East Ayrshire, we are committed to raising awareness of suicide and encouraging people to talk openly about their feelings, which is often the first step to staying safe. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and it can be preventable, anyone can act on the signs that they may see in others.
“This is why the Council, through a strong partnership between Vibrant Communities, Health and Safety and the East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, is providing safeTALK and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training First Aid courses to our employees and local community groups. Over 1000 employees and 100 members of the community have now received suicide awareness training and this is just the beginning.
“One life lost to suicide is one life too many but together we can make a difference.”
During Suicide Prevention Week, Vibrant Communities will be hosting Mental Health and Suicide Prevention information stands at the North West Area Centre, Kilmarnock; Stewarton Area Centre; Yipworld, Cumnock; Dalmellington Area Centre, the Tower Room in Kilmarnock Railway Station and the Shapeshift Fitness Studio in Auchinleck.
The CHIP Van will also be offering free health checks during the week and highlighting the link between physical health and mental health. For details on where the CHIP Van will be give us a call on 01563 576354.
To support this campaign in East Ayrshire, NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education Scotland have made the animations widely and easily accessible at www.bit.ly/AskTellSaveALife.