On World Suicide Prevention Day, Dorset Mind reminds people about the vital importance of talking openly about their mental health. This is especially relevant after the enforced restrictions of lockdown.
The full impact of the global pandemic has not been felt yet, but the charity has witnessed a considerable rise in demand for their range of support services that focus on prevention and early intervention.
Coronavirus and suicide
Uncertainty caused by loss of income, livelihood and career opportunities has caused widespread stress and a rise in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. The worrying effect of these things, along with potential redundancies as businesses close, is that it will, for some people, be so overwhelming that they may feel there is no hope, that there is nowhere to turn for help or that there is no way out of the problems they face. This couldhave a direct impact on the numbers of people dying from suicide. And today, more than ever, on World Suicide Prevention Day, that is something, as individuals, businesses, charities and communities, we must all try to address.
Evidence shows that the problem affects men more than women – as reported in the British Medical Journal* after the last financial crisis and recession in 2008-10. For every 10% increase in number of unemployed men, there was a 1.4% increase in male suicides. In 2018, more than 6,800 people died of suicide – and men are three times as likely to die by suicide than women.
And this is why it is so important to break down the stigma about talking about our experiences, feelings and emotions when things are not going well. It is essential that we get the message out to everyone that there IS help out there and things CAN change for the better. It is critical that people know how to find the help they need and to not be afraid to ask for it.
If you reach a crisis:
To help people who find themselves in a crisis, financial or otherwise, the charity has released a NEW 5-step blueprint for people to follow:
- REACH OUT TO STAY SAFE – Tell someone you are feeling overwhelmed, ashamed or hopeless. Phone a trusted friend, or speak with a family member, colleague or mental health professional. Make it known that you’re not okay – this simple act of talking will help release the immense pressure of carrying this burden alone. Call the Samaritans free on 116 123, they operate around the clock every day of the year. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP – Let your GP know about your situation and ask for advice from relevant organisations (such as housing or gambling) – they WILL be able to help you. Dorset Mind have a comprehensive list of support organisations on their website, organised by subject. If your problems are affecting your mental health call the NHS Connection phone line. Connection is a 24/7 phone helpline for people of all ages in Dorset who are experiencing mental health issues and need support. Call 111 and select ‘mental health’ or dial 0300 1235440 to access support as part of the Dorset Crisis Response Service.
- MAKE A SIMPLE PLAN – Ignoring your situation won’t make it go away. Taking just some simple first steps can help to break a cycle of difficult or overwhelming thinking. Ask for help with this from a family member, a mate or a parent. Or organisations like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Step Change can help you if your problems seem unsurmountable to tackle alone. Prioritise the most important things that will keep you and your loved ones safe.
- MAKE YOUR WELLBEING A PRIORITY – You might not think this is important, but it is. Your family, friends, colleagues and loved ones need you. Take small steps to rebuild your resilience the best you can. Start by making an appointment with your doctor, see a counsellor, a specialist or attend a support group. Take advantage of your Employee Assistance Programmes in your workplace if you have one. The 5 Ways to Wellbeing concept is a good tool to put things in place to help you to rebuild your resilience. Making one or two changes can make a big difference.
- KEEP TALKING – in whatever form, and to whoever you feel comfortable, keep talking about how you feel. The simple act of talking will continue to help you process your feelings and help you to plan for the future. It will also help you release and dissipate negative, difficult or overwhelming feelings.
The impact of talking
Dorset Mind’s Chief Executive, Marianne Storey says, “At Dorset Mind, we passionately believe in the power of talking to someone. It can be the initial step to reaching out for help and support as well as being the source of long term recovery and healing. People can find this extremely difficult, which is why we’ve created an easy to follow 5-step plan, so that people will know what to do if they reach crisis point and know how to move forward from a difficult place to refocus on their future.
There’s a wealth of organisations and charities that can help in times of crisis, and we want to make sure that we get this vital information out to businesses and people in our communities. They should be made aware what help and information is available to them – and where they can get it from when they need it.
And whilst practical information is important, if someone’s mental health has got to a point of desperation we want to let them know there are many alternatives to suicide – there are alternatives that can help overcome and replace temporary overwhelming feelings that should pass, with short and long term support that could build resilience for their future.”
Mental health and suicide
Dorset Mind Patron and Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, Dr Andy Mayers, adds, “It’s never been more important to talk about mental health. While not everyone who develops a mental health problem will become suicidal, we know that the risk for that is increased. This is all the more reason to open those conversations early to prevent the problem getting worse.
As this pandemic continues to pervade every aspect of our lives, and there is so much uncertainty about the future, we are already seeing an increase in the number of people reporting high levels of anxiety, stress and depression. We need to let everyone know that it’s OK to talk and that there are charities, groups and other sources where they can reach out for help. As Patron for Dorset Mind, I am relieved to see that we are guiding people to where they get the help they need.”
If someone is having suicidal thoughts:
If someone tells you that they’re having thoughts of suicide, here’s what to do:
- Assist the person to a place or point of safety, don’t leave them alone
- Be a listening ear – encourage them to talk
- Call in some help. If they are at serious risk of death or injury call 999 and ask for the ambulance or police; If they need to talk, call the Samaritans, 111 Connection helpline or the Hub of Hope.
Dorset Mind offers a range of support across Dorset for adults and young people; and a wealth of information and signposting – please follow this link.