I have had several incidents of suicide cross my path in the last few weeks and it has really brought home how alarming and devastating the effects of suicide are.
The latest figures from MHFA England suggest that over 15 people a day took their lives by suicide in 2016 (Road accidents death is just over 4 people/day). 3/4 of completed suicides are by men with the highest risk group age 40 - 49. But there is very little research about the effects on those left behind. The feelings and thoughts that they will live with on a daily basis. Suicide affects so many people.
I always have a saying that ‘if you know what you have to deal with, and for how long, you can cope with anything’. With suicide, it’s the unknown that eats away at you and leaves you with unresolved issues. When someone you love or know attempts or completes suicide it will affect you in profound ways. Some people will react with an extreme response to the trauma, some will withdrawn, others will act out and engage in risky behaviours. Still others will be left with feelings of guilt and blame and questions that will never be answered. It’s an untenable situation and one that no-one ever wants to be faced with.
So, with such a sensitive topic the guiding principles are: be aware. Take notice. Act and intervene if you are concerned. If you feel there is a risk of suicide - do something. Approach that person, ask them what their intentions are (it has been proven that asking someone if they have a plan for suicide does not encourage or accelerate their action to complete suicide). If you feel they are at risk, get them help. Call for professionals, get them to the GP or A & E, call the mental health crisis team, or CALM or The Samaritans.
If we all start to really notice each other and show care and concern, we can bring this shocking statistic down and save not only the lives on those who are considering suicide, but also the circles of friends, families, colleagues and others around them.
There is lots we can do to help. Start by reading more about the work the Samaritans are doing:
Appreciate those on your life and make sure they feel this appreciation. And above all…