Mental health is still far too often seen as a taboo subject. Suicide is, it could be argued, the biggest taboo under the wider umbrella of mental health.
Suicide is the single biggest killer of men and women in the UK under the age of 35. Papyrus, an organisation dedicated to suicide prevention among young people, reported that 1, 659 people took their own lives in 2015. According to CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably), suicide is the single greatest killer of men under 45 in the U.K, “with 76% of all suicides in 2014 being men”.
Sunday, September 10 is the fourteenth annual World Suicide Prevention Day. Globally, over 800,000 people die by suicide each year. The World Suicide Prevention Day website goes on to state that up to 25 times that number may make a suicide attempt. The numbers are desperately depressing. The incalculable sense of loss, frustration, isolation and myriad of other emotions that those bereaved or affected by suicide cannot be succinctly summarised.
The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Take a minute, change a life’. In a nutshell, by reaching out and offering an empathetic non judgemental ear we can potentially make all the difference to someone feeling suicidal.
For those left bereaved by suicide the sense of loss and hopelessness must seem insurmountable. It is my intention to highlight the activities of three organisations. Firstly, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide is a UK based charity, which was founded by Alice Middleton MBE more than 25 years ago after the death of her brother. Supported by 150 dedicated volunteers the self-help organisation “aims to provide a safe, confidential environment in which bereaved people can share their experiences and feelings, so giving and gaining support from each other.” The charity’s hotline, 0300 111 5065, is open from 9am to 9pm everyday.
Secondly, The Support After Suicide website describes itself as “a network of organisations for people bereaved or affected by suicide.” The thematically organised information is accessible. I was particularly impressed by the ‘What to Say’ section and the advice for talking to someone bereaved by suicide, which in turn is divided into ‘Talking to children’, ‘What to say and not to say’ and ‘Talking to students’.
Thirdly, Warrington based PAPYRUS is dedicated to preventing suicide among young people. Jean Kerr founded the Parents’ Association for the Prevention of Young Suicide (PAPYRUS) twenty years ago after the death of her son. The charity is dedicated to eradicating the stigma around young suicide. PAPYRUS offers support to young people at risk of suicide, their parents and people with concerns about the mental health of a young person. The charity’s dedicated HOPELineUK is 0800 068 41 41. Monday-Friday: 10am-10pm, weekends: 2pm-10pm & bank holidays: 2pm-5pm.
Call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you need to talk.
In 2005 I attempted to take my own life. Luckily, I survived.