Confronting Suicide Head-on: Suicide Prevention Day 2020

September 10th 2020 marks 17 years of World Suicide Prevention Day. This day observes the commitment to remove the social stigma that surrounds discussions on suicide.

The most challenging conversations to have are usually the one’s we need to have the most. Talking about suicide makes it more real, but choosing silence is not the answer. In 2019, suicide numbers reached a 16 year high in the UK after experiencing a steady downward trend since 2003. With more people both attempting and committing suicide each year, it is more urgent than ever that we keep the conversation open and honest about suicide. 

Suicide is a human issue. When we start to look at it as such, it opens the door for better conversations and the normalisation of treatment in society. Suicide can affect anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic background, gender and age. No-one is immune. 

It is a hard number to swallow, but around 81% of suicidal people tell someone what they are going to do and when they are going to do it. It is time to get honest about suicide prevention. If many who attempt suicide give some clue or warning, then we need to look out for the signs. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,”—no matter how casually or jokingly said—may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

That’s why here at Onebright, we are calling for more to be done when it comes to accessing quality mental health care. Too often, suicidal people are left at the mercy of these thoughts; they seek help too late and then need to wait even longer for an appointment.

Discussing Onebright’s approach when dealing with suicidal patients, Onebright’s Clinical Director, Lee Grant, says: 

“We are born to problem solve. Understandably, when we are feeling low, hopeless or helpless, people can consider all options. Those that experience end of life thoughts dismiss them and move on to other solutions, but if we get stuck, we can return to explore suicide – the feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of wishing it was over (the emotions, problem, life) and its consequences. Looking at problems and solutions from a single perspective can prevent effective problem-solving.”

Lee has over 30 years experience in mental health care (7 of which were spent in A&E) where he has talked to hundreds, if not thousands of people that attempted suicide after their method unexpectedly failed.

Contrary to belief, people experiencing suicidal thoughts do not want to end their lives. “Even those with severe depression have mixed feelings about dying. From the people who have sought our Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, they have told us it has been more about stopping the pain” adds Lee Grant. 

The impulse to end one’s life does not last forever. Getting treatment now will set you on the path to recovery. 

Suicide Prevention Day is about putting light on dark thoughts that need to be said out loud. How are those with suicidal thoughts suppose to know that they are not crazy if they don’t talk to someone like a friend, family member or therapist? 

Suicidal people are not psychotic or insane because extreme distress and emotional pain are not always signs of mental illness. 

Tips for coping with suicidal thoughts right now

  • try not to think about the future – just focus on getting through today, make a plan.
  • resist taking drugs and alcohol, especially if you are alone
  • get yourself to a safe place, like a friend’s house, or video call if you cannot go in person
  • be around other people
  • do something you usually enjoy, no matter how small, such as spending time with a pet

What to do if you think someone is struggling

If you’re worried someone is suicidal, it’s okay to ask them directly. Research shows that this helps – because it gives them permission to tell you how they feel, and shows that they are not a burden.

Once someone starts to share how they’re feeling, it’s important to listen. This could mean not offering advice, not trying to identify what they’re going through with your own experiences and not trying to solve their problems.

If you, or someone close to you, is struggling to cope, we, here at Onebright, want you to know that we care and are here to help. We are an experienced, BABCP accredited organisation with trained therapists who are ready to apply tried and tested techniques to stop suicidal thoughts in their tracks.

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