As we come up to World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September, this is perhaps a painful question for many. And for those that experience suicidal thoughts, this very topic can be triggering. As IASP say: “You can be the light”.
5,203 deaths by suicide were registered in the UK in 2021. That is equivalent to a provisional rate of 10.5 suicides per 100,000 people, 0.5 higher than in 2020 and 18 suicides on average per day. Why is this number increasing? For those that have never experienced suicidal thoughts, the question of why anyone would take their own life may be a real puzzle. But the puzzled can still offer support, however frightening they find the very topic.
While there are networks, charities and initiatives around to offer support to those that experience suicidal thoughts, perhaps accessibility can be an issue. Perhaps the people struggling are simply unable to reach out. Depression is a tricky condition.
How can we encourage those who have suicidal thoughts to reach out and get the help they need and deserve? It starts by listening, hearing and offering a safe space for them to share their true feelings. Although you might not actually understand where they are coming from, just by hearing where they are and offering a safe space for them to share their troubling thoughts with you, you can help. You might think they have much to live for, that they are beautiful, but perhaps they can’t see this for themselves. Perhaps they are struggling with depression or severe personal problems leading to feelings of hopelessness.
Perhaps they have had enough of the daily struggle to appear okay. Let them know that it is perfectly okay not to be okay. Allow them to feel their feelings and help them come to terms with their reality right now. Because now is significant but now will not last, nothing is endless and this too shall pass. Accepting how we feel is the first step towards healing those feelings and moving on from them.
The cause and effect of depression and suicidal thoughts is currently in much debate. Is it a chemical imbalance? Is it not? We simply don’t know enough about mental health to have a clear idea. But what we do know is that many people struggle with feelings of low self worth, sadness and hopelessness. These people need our support and our love to get through the tough times and be able to see the sun shining and to feel its warmth. Because, when you are low, the sun doesn’t shine. Let’s help those who can’t feel it’s energy back on their feet.
If you or someone you know is having a tough time you can help by listening and you can point them to the below crisis lines, dedicated to suicide prevention.
Crisis Text Line (Text SHOUT): 85258
National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 0800 689 5652
HOPELINEUK (for under 35s): 0800 068 4141
CALM: 0800 585858
Young Minds (parents helpline): 0808 802 5544
The Mix (under 25s): 0808 808 4994
SOS: 0300 1020 505
May Tree: 0207 263 7070