World Suicide Prevention Day 2017: Let’s talk

Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day this Sunday 10 September, Riverside Care and Support’s Liz Turner considers why talking and listening could help to save a life.

Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. Some of these people may be linked to your community and have a network of family, friends and work colleagues or school mates; others may be less well connected; and some may be quite isolated. Regardless of the circumstances, everyone has an important role to play in supporting those who are vulnerable.

The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Take a minute, change a life’ which highlights that taking time to look out for someone who may be struggling, encouraging them to talk, offering a word of support and listening could help change the course of their life.

You don’t have to have all the answers, but showing compassion and empathy can help a person to turn things around and point them towards recovery. Suicide can be considered a taboo subject and difficult to talk about because of the potential stigma surrounding it. And most people don’t want to talk about having suicidal thoughts or feeling suicidal. But having the conversation with someone could just be the first step in helping to save a life. Simply asking them ‘Are you Ok?’ could be all it takes for them to seek help.

At Riverside we have a wide range of services across the country which support individuals with their mental health. A person-centred support plan is put together for each individual so that their needs are met. If anyone is suffering from a crisis with their mental health we can direct them to other organisations to get the specialist care and support needed, such as contacting their GP, local mental health services, or putting them in touch with counselling services. It’s important that they receive the right kind of support at the right time.

Problems with mental health can affect every one of us. And that’s why Riverside has signed up to the Time to Change employer pledge as well, standing by our commitment to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health.

Signing the pledge means that we are committed and understand how important it is for people to have the conversation. To support this we have 70 mental health champions across the organisation so that if colleagues need someone to talk to, they can do so without feeling they will be judged in any way.

It is also important to remember that help is available. The NHS Choices website has a list of helplines and support groups to turn to.