Spotlight on suicide to help prevent deaths

Kathy McKenna at Mind preparing for World Suicide Prevention Day
Kathy McKenna at Mind preparing for World Suicide Prevention Day
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A total of 22 people in Hartlepool took their own life in the past three years, according to latest Public Health figures.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and a chance for campaigners to put the topic firmly into the spotlight and reach out to those who are either contemplating taking their own life or supporting someone who is having suicidal thoughts.

“If you think someone you know is contemplating suicide, one of the most important things you can do is to talk to them about how they feel and be there to listen.”

Stehen Buckley

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds, with children even younger also being affected by suicidal thoughts.

In Hartlepool 18 men and four women, aged 15-74, took their own lives between 2012-14. This is equal to 61.8 and 7.3 respectively per 10,000 people - above the national average of 50.2 for men and below the national average of 13.7 for women.

Tonight, people across the town are being asked to light a candle near a window at 8pm in a show of support for suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one and for the survivors of suicide.

Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental health charity Mind, said: “We lose 6,000 people a year to suicide in the UK and every one is a tragedy. Not all suicides are mental health-related but the majority are and we know that often people struggle in silence because they find it difficult to ask for help.

“A third of suicides are among people known to NHS mental health services and it is vital that when people do seek help, they get the support they need. No one in touch with services, asking for help, should reach the point of taking their own life.

“Overall, we are getting better at talking about mental health – thanks in large part to campaigns like Time to Change, run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, that help break down the stigma surrounding mental health.

“If you are feeling suicidal, talking to family and friends can make a real difference. Just telling someone about suicidal feelings can be a relief, and might be a good first step towards getting help. Friends and family can be there for you emotionally, but also help you think about what you need to keep yourself safe and get support.

“If you think someone you know is contemplating suicide, one of the most important things you can do is to talk to them about how they feel and be there to listen. You may feel pressure ‘to say the right thing’, but just being there and listening in a compassionate way is vital to helping that someone feel less isolated and frightened.”

Anyone feeling suicidal and unable to talk to someone they know, call your GP, call 999, go to A&E or call the Samaritans (116 123). For details visit mind.org.uk or call Infoline 0300 123 3393.