World Suicide Prevention Day is held on 10 September to raise awareness and to help reduce the number of people who die by suicide.
The Office for National Statistics published that in 2021 there were 5219 suicides registered in England and the suicide rate for males was 15.8 per 100,000 people, and for females it was 5.5 per 100,000 people.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50, but suicide is preventable and so it is important to talk to family members, friends and colleagues who you are concerned about.
The feelings driving suicidal thoughts are often temporary, so you should encourage individuals to talk about their feelings. You should be direct with them about the thoughts they are having and use the word suicide. By using the word suicide it does not mean that you will put the thought into their mind, or that you will make it more likely to happen, but it will enable you to support and to direct them to the help they need. As most people who think about or attempt to take their lives do not want to die.
Zero Suicide Alliance provides free online training courses on how to have a potentially life-saving conversation with someone who is displaying signs of mental health illness. Click on 'NEXT' below or the link to undertake the training https://zsa.frank-cdn.uk
If you are concerned about someone's wellbeing, then before speaking to them prepare yourself by having information available of organisations that can help, such as MIND, the Samaritans and have a plan, consider how you will construct the conversation and show that you care.
Zero Suicide Alliance advise that there are three steps to follow:
See (see the problem) - how do they appear, are their changes in their behaviour such as withdrawing themselves from the group, being irritable and having time off. Tell them that you are concerned about them and listen to their responses. Look out for statements such as feeling 'fed up', they are a 'burden', better off without them', expressing feelings of worthlessness, as they are all signs of an individual who potentially feels suicidal or has had suicidal thoughts.
Say (say the words) - use the word suicide, avoid stigmatising or blaming language, such as 'how will your family feel if hurt yourself', as this could further impact on their low thoughts. Ask them if they have thought about a plan for committing suicide, or if they have already done something to hurt themselves, as this will help you to provide the right kind of assistance by assessing the level of suicidal risk. Acknowledge their distress, but remain calm, and let them know that you are there for them.
Signpost (signpost to support) - provide details of organisations, support groups, resources that they can access, such as NHS, Samaritans, Mind. Refer them to their GP and/or OHU. The Hub of Hope is an app that they can download, which will provide information regarding help that is available to them in their local area, based on their postcode.
Following the conversation make a plan for next steps, which may be medical assistance if the risk of suicide is immediate or serious, or if the risk is low, then a follow-on conversation with the individual may be appropriate to see how they are feeling and to reassess the risk.
Remember to consider your own well-being and get support, as it can be very challenging to have these conversations and to support someone who is feeling suicidal.
Our Mental Health Illness Employer Toolkit provides you with further advice and support and is available in Resources on the website, or by clicking the link below.