Suicidal feelings are something we hope we or anyone close to us will never feel. Yet Time to Change report that a recent survey estimated around 20% of the population will experience suicidal feelings in their lifetime and 6.7% of people will take action to end their lives.
Around the world someone dies from suicide every 40 seconds and for every suicide there are a further 20 attempts - equating to someone seeking to end their life every 3 seconds.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under age 49.
What are suicidal feelings?
People feel suicidal for a variety of reasons, for example:
• Life has become too difficult or hopeless because of external events like a relationship break-up or the symptoms of a mental health problem.
• They are experiencing intrusive thoughts about suicide or hearing voices which instruct them to take their own life.
The risk of someone taking action to end their life can be made worse by heightened feelings of carelessness or impulsivity. This might be caused by symptoms of a mental health problem, such as mania, or if they have been consuming drink or drugs.
How do suicidal feelings affect people's lives?
Suicidal feelings can be something that someone experiences once or they might be something that they have to deal with on and off their whole lives. Suicidal thoughts can take over someone’s life, prevent them from maintaining relationships, doing their jobs or looking after their physical health. It is extremely stressful and frightening to consider death for long periods of time, with no hope of relief. Going about your day to day life when you feel life is not worth living is also exhausting.
Listen, don’t judge
Someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts can feel a great deal of shame. If you listen calmly without making assumptions or judgments, you can help them to feel the situation is more manageable. Remember that not everyone who experiences suicidal feelings intends to act on it. It is important to make this distinction when deciding how best to help them.
By the same token there is a myth that because someone asks for help or shares their feelings about wanting to end their life, they are not serious about acting on their feelings. Some people think a suicide attempt is a ‘cry for help’ and not a genuine intention to end their life. This is both an inaccurate and uncaring description:
• Many people who take actions to end their lives want to die even if they survive and come to a different perspective later.
• Even for those who would like someone to intervene, if someone is so desperate they are willing to risk their lives, they need attention and compassion, not judgment and dismissal.
You may find this guidance on how to help someone who is feeling suicidal of help. It talks you through what to say and what not to say and what support options could be considered.
If someone is in crisis call 999 or contact The Samaritans on 116 123.
10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day
This year IASP are promoting the theme ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’, to highlight the essential tool of collaboration. To help reach this goal, you can:
To show your support for suicide prevention or to remember a lost loved one and the survivors of suicide, IASP are asking you to light a candle at 8pm on the 10th September.
In addition Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System are leading an event to raise awareness and to remember those that have died and are bereaved by suicide. A 40 second silence will be held at Preston Flag Market on 10 September 2019 at 11.40am, 12.40pm, 1.40pm and 2.40pm.