Suicide

We can reduce the statistic of one suicide every 2 hours if we talk about feelings and thoughts related to suicidal behaviour. This in turn will help to reduce the stigma attached and will help our understanding of suicide.
Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst young people aged 20 – 34 years in the UK and is considerably higher in men with nearly 4 times as many men dying as a result of suicide compared to women. Those at highest risk are men aged between 45 -59 years. One reason for men more likely to complete suicide is because they are less likely than women to ask for help or talk about depressive or suicidal feelings. Recent statistics show that 72% of people who have completed suicide had not been in contact with a GP or health care professional about their feelings in the year before.

Risk Factors

Certain factors are known to be associated with increased risk of suicide.
These include:
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • history of trauma or abuse
  • unemployment
  • social isolation
  • poverty
  • poor social conditions
  • imprisonment
  • violence
  • family breakdown
More than 90% of suicides and suicide attempts are associated with a psychiatric disorder, the majority of which are depressive disorders.
Previous suicide attempts or self harm behaviour are also indicators of particular risk and up to 16% of survivors will try again within a year.
For young people, bullying, family turmoil, mental health problems, unemployment and a family history of suicide can play a part in increasing the risk of suicide. Among young people, 80% of suicides are male, and one in three young people who take their lives are intoxicated at the time of death.
For older people, poverty, poor quality housing, social isolation, depression and physical health problems are factors which can increase the risk of suicide.

Prevention

Feeling suicidal can be a temporary state of mind. If appropriate and timely help and emotional support is offered to people, this can reduce the risk of them choosing to end their own life.
Following a focused campaign in recent years, the number of suicides among  men aged 25 – 34, previously the highest, has been on a downward trend.
Attempts at suicide can be preceded by certain signs which can include self harm, taking risks, organising ones affairs and saying “good bye”.The person in question may  be expressing their thoughts prior to the act to relatives, partners, peers or professionals. These offer potential opportunities to intervene.
Sometimes people choose to die by suicide regardless of whether or not we have offered help for them to find an alternative. If this happens it is very important that we do not blame ourselves. Remember that you have tried to help in the best way you know. You do not have the power to change another person’s mind. Only the person themselves can change their mind, others can offer support to them when they are distressed or in pain.
Prevention of suicide is not the exclusive responsibility of any one sector of society. Schools can create cultures in which young people feel it is healthy to talk through emotional and other difficulties. General practitioners can restrict the number of tablets prescribed to those at risk of overdose. Accident and Emergency staff can ensure all young people who have attempted suicide receive specialist mental health assessment. And each of us can  pay close attention to the overall mental health of our loved ones to reduce the risks of them taking their lives.
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Recovery from a suicide attempt

The attitudes we hold toward people who attempt to take their lives can influence the course of their condition.The isolation that suicidal people feel can be reinforced by a judgmental approach in which their behaviour is viewed as manipulative or selfish. By stepping beyond our personal assumptions, and showing care and respect for the people behind the behaviours, we can help them talk about their feelings and help prevent suicide taking place.

U Can Cope

In 2012 the Mental Health Foundation collaborated in the production ‘U Can Cope’, a film which was made to raise awareness and provide help and support on World Suicide Prevention Day.  The film aims to spread the message that it is possible to overcome suicidal thoughts and feelings and that there are many resources available to help those who are struggling to cope.
Find out more about the myths and misconceptions of suicide.