Suicide – don’t hide it, talk about it

The Lifestyle Development and Community Wellbeing team will be encouraging people to ‘Read between the lines’ during Suicide Prevention Week – Monday 10 September to Sunday 16 September.

In Scotland, suicide is one of the main causes of death among young people. However, every life lost to suicide is a tragedy regardless of the person’s age. One suicide represents lost life, lost talent, a lost family member and a wound that doesn’t easily heal in those left behind.

People attempt suicide for a wide range of reasons and can include a major life change, a loss or bereavement or long-term factors like abuse or illness.

Suicide can be preventable and anyone can help by acting on the signs that they may see in others.

People at risk of suicide may not always say or show that they feel this way, so the best way to identify the possibility of suicide is to ask the person directly. We know that family, friends and workmates of people at risk of suicide may be in a good position to recognise the signs of distress in someone and be able to help.

Openly discussing someone’s thoughts of suicide and allowing them to talk about how they feel can be a source of relief for them, and can be key to preventing the immediate danger of suicide.
It is important that if you are faced with a situation like this that you also receive support, and there are numerous organisations that can help with this, such as Breathing Space and the Samaritans.

The CHIP team are also involved with delivering safeTALK, which is a training course that prepares anyone over the age of 15 years to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.

Most people with thoughts of suicide invite help to stay safe. Alert helpers know how to use these opportunities to support that desire for safety.

Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “I wholeheartedly support the ‘read between the lines’ message being promoted and supported by the Lifestyle Development and Community Wellbeing team during Suicide Awareness Week. Any life lost to suicide is an unbearable tragedy. I have lost both a family member and a best friend to suicide, and I am acutely aware of the devastating effect suicide can have on those left behind.

“In East Ayrshire we are committed to raising awareness of suicide and encouraging people to talk openly about their feelings, this is often the first step to staying safe.

“There is also a clear link between physical activity and good mental health. Evidence suggests that physical activity makes people feel better, through improvements in mood and positive changes in self-image.

“These psychological benefits are a great reason to take part in regular physical activity, and they can help with long-term motivation too. Exercise also promotes better sleep.

“The CHIP team offers a whole range of exercise options from classes to walking groups, as well as physical activity and lifestyle advice that everyone can benefit from. Pop onto the CHIP Van during September to receive a free health check and find out a bit more, or you can phone the team on 01563 576398.”

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “Every life matters and no death by suicide should be regarded as either acceptable or inevitable. Over the past decade, Scotland has made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide but we want to go further. Our view is that suicide is preventable, and where anyone contemplating suicide or who has lost a loved one to suicide should get the support they need.

“If we are to achieve this, we need to make clear that suicide prevention is everyone’s business. We need to work together across sectors and organisations to identify and support people in distress, strengthen communities, and save lives.”

Linda Chisholm, Choose Life Co-ordinator 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.”

Raising awareness of suicide prevention and giving the public information is vital.

During 2018 Suicide Prevention Week, activities in East Ayrshire include widespread awareness raising through our CHIP van visits and an afternoon of awareness raising to students at the Kilmarnock Campus of Ayrshire College in conjunction with the Student Wellbeing Officer.

For more information on safeTALK training please contact Faye Forsyth on 01563 576398

To speak to someone about your own feelings or if you are worried about someone else please contact Breathing Space or the Samaritans.

Breathing Space  0800 83 85 87

Samaritans  116 123 (Lines open 24hours)