There are some blog subjects that are easy to write and a delight to research. Then there are some which make you stop and shudder; that stay with you long after the words have been written and the ‘save’ button pressed. This is one of those, but as difficult as this subject is to tackle, perhaps, just perhaps by reading this you may wonder a little more about an altogether different boy’s ‘club’ (although women not excluded) and help save a life too.
Tomorrow, it is National Suicide Prevention day and as much as you may be reaching for the delete key, please don’t because the facts are shocking. Yes, most of us will be aware that Robin Williams’ recent suicide from depression threw the world into a flurry of disbelief. Many of us grew up with his films; the funny man who became a familiar face and entertained the masses from the last millennia to (sadly) only recently. But he wasn’t as familiar as, say, someone you work with. He was but a stranger on the screen but when you bring the spotlight on suicide closer to home (someone in Adult Social Care) for me at least, it becomes all the more real.
Tomorrow we’ll be sharing a heartfelt and very honest account of one man’s struggle that led to two (fortunately) unsuccessful suicide attempts. Most of those who work in Adult Social Care or work with us know him, but today those shocking facts first and some ways you could perhaps help someone who may be feeling suicidal.
I’m not normally one for needing facts to support sentiment but according to a recent article in a respected newspaper, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 and 49. The biggest killer, putting road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease far into the shadows of what I’d have thought were the biggest threats to men’s mortality. It’s also predominantly a male disorder – of the 5,981 suicides in 2012, an astonishing 4,590 (76%) were men. And yet while Britain has high-profile campaigns on, say, testicular cancer or smoking, the biggest killer of men under 50 is not getting the attention it deserves. It’s a boys club I think few men would want to be a part of, nor the 1,391 women who also fall to what seems a tragic last resort…
It is hard to see the future when suffering from intolerable emotion, unbearable pain, and unacceptable anguish. I’d challenge even the strong not to have experienced ‘dark times’ and many recover in their own way; through friends, family, or the ability to grasp optimism, find a resolution and hope for the future and move on. But some feel powerless to find a way out; to change a situation that’s distressing and the idea of suicide in these times, can give control back; it is, after all the ultimate control anyone can have; how, where and when you die. Recognising some of the signs however, either as an individual or as a friend or family member might just be the first step to helping support someone before it’s too late.
According to the MIND organisation, there are signs to look out for if someone is feeling suicidal. They might experience:
• sleeping badly and waking early
• a change in appetite
• weight loss or gain
• feeling cut off from their body or feeling physically numb
• a loss of energy
• someone may have stopped taking care of themselves e.g. neglecting their physical appearance.
Furthermore, there are certain (but not exclusive) circumstances that may provoke feelings that lead people to suicidal thoughts:
• being bullied at work, home or at school
• experiencing bereavement or other loss
• work problems, unemployment or poor job prospects
• adjusting to a big change, such as retirement or redundancy
• debt problems
• being in prison
• pregnancy, childbirth or postnatal depression
• cultural pressures
• doubts about your sexual or gender identity
• facing discrimination
• a history of sexual or physical abuse
• long-term physical pain or illness
• mental health problems.
Of all the above points, I suspect there’s at least one that most of you could pick out as having happened or is happening to you or someone close to you now. I’m absolutely not suggesting that going through any of the above automatically equates to surrendering to suicidal thoughts or actions. We all deal with the challenges life throws at us differently, but what if things did get just too bad? What if there simply didn’t seem to be a way out? As a friend or family, there are options that might just make the difference so desperately needed. Here are just a few:
1. Show you care
If you suspect someone is struggling with depression or suicide, let them know you care. Here are some things you can say:
· “I’m worried about you/about how you feel.”
· “You mean a lot to me and I want to help.”
· “I’m here if you need someone to talk to.”
2. Ask the question: Are you thinking about suicide?
Many people think by saying the word “suicide” they will put the idea into someone’s head. This is simply not true. In fact, by talking with a friend or loved one about suicide you will show them that you are not afraid of it and that you do care. This will make them feel safe and more likely to open up and receive help. So ask them:
· “Have you ever thought about suicide?”
· “Do you want to die or do you just want your problems to go away?”
3. Get help
If a friend tells you he or she is thinking of suicide, never keep it a secret, even if you’re asked to. Do not try to handle the situation on your own. You can help the most by referring your friend to someone with the professional skills necessary to provide the help that he or she needs. You can continue to help by offering support. Here are some ways to talk to your friend about getting help:
· “I know where we can get some help.”
· “Let’s talk to someone who can help. Let’s call the crisis line now.”
· “I can go with you to get some help”
Most people who are thinking about suicide do not want to die. They just want their pain to end. By caring, helping and showing compassion, you can help someone live.
If you, or someone you know, are feeling suicidal, the following organisations can also provide support:
Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service: www.lslcs.org.uk or telephone (0113) 260 9328
Dial House, crisis house providing face to face support, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 0113 260 9328
Dial House @ Touchstone, face to face crisis support for people from Black and Minority Ethnic Groups, Tuesday and Thursday, 0113 249 4675
Connect Helpline, every single night of the year. Freephone 0808 800 1212
The Samaritans http://www.samaritans.org/ 08457 90 90 90 – call charges may apply but they are open 24hours a day, 365 days a year.
Dying to be heard? I don’t know about you, but I’d be all ears.