Thursday, 10 September 2015

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day across the globe. The theme in this 13th year of the Day is “Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives.”

The issue of suicide is as relevant in Powys as it is anywhere else in the world. In speaking to police officers in the local Dyfed Powys force recently I was made aware that the incidence of attempted suicide and self-harm in the county has been rising over recent months. Police officers are often the first emergency services on the scene in crisis situations, along with those from Health. Here in our team we provide an Information Service, not a Crisis Helpline such as Samaritans or C.A.L.L.Helpline, but nevertheless we are still occasionally called or met by people who are extremely distressed and tell us that they want to kill themselves.

According to the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2015: Male suicides in Wales rose by 23% between 2012 and 2013, and rates are significantly higher than those in England since 2010. The BBC wrote more about these statistics here.

The question has to be asked, why are more people feeling so desperate about the quality of their lives that they consider suicide? The Samaritans Report states: 'The causes of suicide are complex, and we need to encourage people to seek help before they reach a crisis point'.

It seems appropriate then, on World Suicide Prevention Day, to flag up some of the resources and services that are available to people at risk of suicide and those close to them. First, though, a bit about the organisation which established the Day originally.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) was founded in 1960 and is: ‘dedicated to preventing suicidal behaviour, to alleviate its effects, and to provide a forum for academicians, mental health professionals, crisis workers, volunteers and suicide survivors’.

The President of IASP, Professor Ella Arensman, introduces us to World Suicide Prevention Day with the words: “Every year over 800,000 people die by suicide (around the world)…. We now know that for many people who survive a suicide their main intent was not to die but to have a different life. This important insight should encourage all of us to become more proactive, to reach out and to support people improving their quality of life.”


Samaritans provide a helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And you can find more about the local Brecon & Radnor branch here.

C.A.L.L. Helpline offers a confidential listening and support service . Anyone concerned about their own mental health or that of a relative or friend can access the service.

NHS Choices has a very useful webpage on Offering support to someone who’s feeling suicidal. It starts off: “One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say”.

The charity Mind has a range of information on its website relating to suicide, including sections about Suicidal feelings and Creating a support plan to use if someone is feeling suicidal.

Author Matt Haig wrote a blog post last year about the time when he nearly killed himself aged 24. It’s called REASONS TO STAY ALIVE.

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide is a self-help organisation which exists to meet the needs and break the isolation experienced by those bereaved by suicide.

The BBC has on online guide called How do we talk about teen suicide?

Further information

In July 2015 the Welsh Government published its Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Strategy for Wales 2015-2020 - Talk to me 2. There are 6 priority actions, including:

  • The development and delivery of a Wales framework for the training of professionals, individuals who frequently come in to contact with people at risk of suicide and self harm, and the general public.
  • To promote staff awareness and improve staff knowledge of where to go for help and support through workplaces.
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is run occasionally in different parts of Wales. It is a 2 day skills building workshop which prepares caregivers of all kinds to provide suicide first aid interventions. There are courses in Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen in November 2015, February, May & August 2016.

If you are urgently looking for help and advice in Powys there is a summary of the main contacts on our Powys Mental Health website.

If you have further suggestions for help and support for people feeling suicidal, then please add in the comments box below.

Finally, there is further research being carried out which aims to understand more about suicide and what can be done to prevent it. If you are interested, find out more about The Quest Study, which has been commissioned by Samaritans and undertaken by psychology researchers at Middlesex University and the University of Westminster.

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