We’re about to head into September, which is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, with World Suicide Prevention Day also on 10th September each year.
Of course, suicide prevention is important every month, 365 days a year.
But September has been allocated to raise awareness of this issue and to help to create a world where fewer (ideally, no) people die by suicide.
As those of you who know me will be aware, I lost my partner to suicide last year.
Despite the fact that I considered myself to be pretty well-informed about mental health and mental illness, it still happened.
It’s taken some time for me to come to terms with the guilt I felt.
“I should have done X”
“Maybe I could have done Y”
“Why didn’t I notice Z?”
I thought I knew the warning signs and the prevention strategies cover-to-cover, but when it came down to it, I missed it.
Unsurprisingly, this has weighed heavily on me.
At the end of the day, I am human – I miss things and I make mistakes.
In the same vein, I am human – I can’t mind read and when it comes down to it, we are not to blame for the actions of others. We can do everything “right” and suicide may still happen.
That being said, I also acknowledged that I needed to improve my understanding of suicide prevention and learn more skills to make sure that I am more aware of the signs and what I can do to help someone in crisis.
Zero Suicide Alliance
One of the first things I did was to take part in the Zero Suicide Alliance’s ‘Suicide Awareness training‘.
There are three steps and the whole training programme can be completed within one hour.
I found the training to be both informative and pragmatic, as it provides actionable techniques to help you intervene and support someone who may be contemplating suicide.
This training is completely free and open to anyone. You also get a digital certificate at the end.
I would strongly encourage anyone to complete this training – it just might help you to save a life.
Zero Suicide Alliance also offer additional resources to support you in learning more about suicide prevention.
Mental Health First Aid Training (MHFA)
I was fortunate to have been able to complete this training in-person prior to the lockdown, however, due to the current circumstances, I understand that courses are currently being held online. This may change in line with the official guidelines.
The course I attended was two full days and it was pretty intensive. We covered a lot of material but it was manageable, and I left feeling well-informed and confident in my new skills.
The MHFA training does not qualify you as a therapist, but it does equip you with the essential skills to recognise when someone might be struggling. It also teaches the key skills needed to respond to an immediate mental health crisis and support the individual in getting the appropriate professional help.
To read more about my experience with the MHFA course and my answers to some FAQs, click here.
For my full list of recommended resources, you can take a look at my Support page, but here are a few organisations that can help if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
(Important note: If you are actively suicidal, have a plan to end your life, or have taken action towards ending your life, please call 999 immediately or present yourself at A&E.)
- Telephone: 116 123 (freephone, available 24/7, 365 days a year)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (responses within 24 hours)
- Post: (freepost, replies within seven days)
PO Box 9090
STIRLING FK8 2SA
- App: Self-help app
Papyrus (for people under 35)
- Telephone: 0800 068 41 41 (Monday to Friday 9am to 10pm, weekends and bank holidays 2pm to 10pm)
- Text: 07860 039967
- Email: email@example.com
Childline (for children and young people under 19)
- Telephone: 0800 1111 (calls are free and don’t show up on phone bills)
- Online chat: 1-2-1 chat with a counsellor
- Email: Sign up for a “locker” (replies within a day if possible)
Aside from these organisations, if you are considering suicide, please tell someone – anyone.
A friend, a family member, your GP, your manager, your teacher, a neighbour, a co-worker – you don’t even have to say it out loud, you could pass them a note or send them a text. It doesn’t matter how you tell someone, please just tell them.
Suicide may feel like the only option, but I promise you, it’s not.
And finally, if someone tells you they’re contemplating suicide, believe them.
You might not be able to “fix it”, but your support could well be the thing that saves a life.
Do you know of any other useful resources on this topic?
Maybe you have your own tips and advice to share?
Or perhaps you have required or received support in this area before and want to share your experience and feedback?
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.