Let’s talk about suicide.

We are surrounded by numbers and rarely stop to think what they actually mean to us, until we become one of those numbers – by taking our own life (18 deaths a day), being affected by someone who has attempted or successfully died from suicide (135 people), by being a man (75% of suicides are by men), or someone under 35 (biggest age group taking their own lives). All contributing factors and statistics that relate to suicide.

Suicide is one of those subjects that most of us leave to the experts, it’s too messy, emotional, even a taboo subject, and one that we often fear that talking about, could cause even more harm than good.  Many of us will feel uncomfortable asking someone ‘how are you – really?’ anxious about what they may share with us, so we don’t ask.  Some of us may have been in a position where we’ve noticed that someone isn’t quite themselves, as they seem more under pressure than usual, or are withdrawn, look different somehow, and may even be using words such as ‘why bother, I’ve no choices, I’m such a burden, I can’t go on’ – yet, we can feel paralysed with not knowing what to do, so we do and say nothing.

At a recent Greencross Global webinar, they emphasised the power of talking.  Not being afraid to ask the person ‘are you really ok?’ and even ‘are you thinking about taking your own life?’ Asking someone directly if are they feeling suicidal, actually protects them and won’t harm them, as by listening and being supportive this can be the first step to the professional help that is out there for them.

The charity Mind suggests when talking to someone about suicidal thoughts that you:

  • Ask open questions
  • Give them time to talk
  • Listen
  • Take them seriously
  • Stay calm
  • Try not to judge
  • Try not to make assumptions
  • Don’t skirt around the topic

When 1 in 5 people have suicidal thoughts all we need to do is look around us, there could be the person sitting near us on the bus, or in the supermarket queue or someone in our work or family who are considering ending their life through their own actions.  It’s a scary statistic, and one that we cannot ignore and cannot remain silent about.

Saturday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day calling for ‘creating hope through action’.  As a Mental Fitness Coach, I spend time focussing on people’s positive mind, but I also need to know how to manage the conversation or situations when someone is very stuck in a negative mindset, and may even be feeling suicidal.

When we realise that 400 people a day attempt to take their own life, being aware of what to say, how to support them, and how to self-manage is important.  Signposting is often the best solution, whether to your employee assistance scheme, or one of the many amazing charities out there, as well as the NHS.  And as important is knowing where you can seek help and support.  I’m lucky to have around me fabulous therapists like my colleague Gordon Laird to seek advice from, as well as the Co-Active Coaching and Mental Fitness Coaches I stay in touch with.  So, who supports you as you are supporting someone you feel may take their life?  As the number of deaths by suicide rise annually, knowing where to find guidance and who to seek help from is important for every parent, friend, manager and colleague.

If this article has fuelled your desire to find out more, here is some signposting for you:

  1. Find out from work what employee assistance schemes or support are available
  2. Get in touch with my signposting document to key organisations (a comprehensive list of UK charities and downloadable apps)
  3. Attend the Greencross Global free training on 7th September – get in touch with Ross Abbott
  4. On a lighter note, come along to one of my free 15-minute Mental Fitness HIIT sessions

By taking an active role, being willing to talk openly about this subject and actively listening will help to create hope.