Foreword: Richard Porter, Health Improvement Specialist (Public Mental Health)
Thursday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) which aims to raise awareness that suicide can be prevented. Calderdale Council and partners are raising awareness of the impact of suicide and that there are things we can all do to help people who are thinking about taking their own life..
The national suicide figures have recently been updated by Office National Statistics (ONS) and, worryingly, show the first increase since 2013. In Calderdale the rate is now 14.8 per 100,000 people, which is higher than the Yorkshire and Humber region 12.0 per 100,000 and the national rate of 10.1 per 100,000. Between 2017 and 2019 81 lives were lost to suicide in Calderdale.
Nationally, the highest rate is amongst men and suicide is the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35. Although the suicide rate in women has relatively remained the same, the age group of 45 to 49 years is the highest age group suicide rate in women. The lowest deaths remain among the under 25s but we have seen a general increase especially in the 10 to 24-year-old women.
Personally, tomorrow WSPD provides me with an opportunity to reflect and share why ‘talking’ is important in promoting good mental health and suicide prevention.
There have been numerous occasions in the past three years where a phone call, a catch-up over a frothy coffee or on instant messenger chat has resulted in a suicide prevention conversation. In brief those in the conversations are a good friend, each were experiencing difficult times unbeknown to anyone but talking and listening revealed suicidal thoughts.
I still think about how within my own social network that a few friends were struggling with their mental health and experiencing suicidal thoughts, but no one was aware. It brought all my reading and training very close to home.
Maybe at the time I had just completed a suicide prevention course which had raised my awareness of the possibilities of suicidal thoughts and therefore I was alert to the signs. In each case there were signs either a change in body language, they were just not themselves or subtle hints. Each occasion I was concerned and asked, “are you talking about suicide?” or “are you thinking about suicide?” resulting in a confirmation that they were. On other occasions it has not but we still talked about any support available.
These conversations continued with further talking, listening and exploring what support will help. Each friend has gone onto speak to their GP or access professional local support. But beyond the professional support we continue to speak more than ever before although it is via technology.
Therefore, with WSPD tomorrow do take up the opportunity to reach out to colleagues, family and friends. Start a conversation and it may save a life.
As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, Calderdale Suicide Prevention Group is asking people to get involved by taking on board some advice – WAIT!
Mental Health Foundation are pushing the advice WAIT (Watch out, Ask, It will pass, Talk to others) a simple approach everyone can take when supporting a colleague, family member, friend or a complete stranger. It’s simple and effective especially when we remain suicide alert!
Suicide alert means being aware of the possibilities of suicide feelings and asking “are you having suicidal thoughts?”
To be more suicide alert we encourage everyone to complete Zero Suicide Alliance FREE online training session and gain the skills to save a life. It only takes 20 minutes and a printable certificate provided.
It’s about being caring and continuing to use the innate kindness we possess. To encourage people to ‘talk’ is very important and to seek help from a GP or health professional.
Encouragement to talk is very important and our ability to listen, to keep listening and finally to sign post to professionals or organisation to help keep the person keep safe.
The Samaritans is an always-open listening service – call on 116 123 (free). Alternatively, support is available by contacting the local NHS trust on 01924 316830, which is open 24 hours a day.
On 10 September, a local film focusing on the impact of suicide on one local family will be shown at Square Chapel in Halifax. ‘ What remains’ tells the story of Gillian Brooks and her family, who after the death of her husband by suicide, tried to make sense of the events and preserve memories for her children. She wrote down her story, which has now been made into a film.
Talk to others
If you need to talk to someone, you can always ring the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org
Provide confidential support and advice to young people and provide a safe space to talk through anything happening in your life. Ring the HOPELINE 0800 068 41 41 or visit https://papyrus-uk.org
West Yorkshire and Harrogate Suicide Bereavement Service
West Yorkshire & Harrogate Suicide Bereavement Service (WYHSBS) is a postvention service, providing practical and emotional support to people who have been affected by a suicide bereavement.
WYHSBS will work to support residents of the following areas: Calderdale, Craven, Bradford, Harrogate district, Kirklees and Wakefield.
Information on how to access help and the range of support available can be found on the website: www.wyhsbs.org.uk (West Yorkshire)
Queries can be directed to 0113 305 5800
For advice, visit: Looking after your emotional health and well-being (Calderdale CCG).
Open Minds Partnership (was CAMHS)
For the latest updates, visit: Temporary arrangements for the Open Minds Partnership (CAMHS) – COVID-19 (Calderdale CCG).
Andy’s Man Club – are talking groups for men because…
You’ve either been through a storm, currently going through a storm or have a storm brewing in your life. Please visit www.andysmanclub.co.uk
Men at risk of suicide and serious self-harm
A new collaborative project ‘Great Minds’ with State of Mind Sport is coming to West Yorkshire and this includes Calderdale. It will see partner teams deliver workshops with men at risk of suicide and serious self-harm. You can find out more about the Great Minds project in this video Great Minds Calderdale.
Men of Calderdale… join us!
If you are interested and want to join us, email; email@example.com
Virtual Exhibition to mark World Suicide Prevention Day
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day the Leeds and West Yorkshire Suicide Bereavement Service have created a virtual exhibition, by inviting clients to submit artwork, poetry, audio and collages around the ‘theme’ of memories.
To access the virtual exhibition email: firstname.lastname@example.org