Suicide is a complicated and extremely sensitive issue, with many different contributing factors, including mental illness, substance abuse, and stressors. People who do contemplate suicide usually feel isolated, and they may think they have no other option. Due to this, preventing suicide requires different approaches including education, support and awareness of the topic.
One of the biggest barriers pertinent to preventing suicide is the stigma revolving around mental health. Often, people suffering with mental health conditions feel ashamed to reach out and therefore don’t ask for help when they are struggling most. These misconceptions must be challenged to create a society where we can discuss these concerns without fear of judgement.
It is essential that there is open conversations about suicide prevention to help raise awareness of the issue. This will help to reduce the stigma and help individuals to feel more comfortable discussing their issues and be able to ask for help. Becoming educated about the warning signs of suicide, such as significant mood swings, feeling hopeless and withdrawing from their normal social activities.
If you recognise these signs in someone you know, reach out to them with understanding and compassion. It is important they know there is no judgement and that you care about them. You can suggest they talk to a professional therapist, and if you wish, you can aid them to find helpful resources. Emotional support is crucial, but it is equally important to encourage those who need it to seek professional help, as they are trained and qualified to treat and care for those having thoughts of suicide.
Despite it being important to reach out to those in your own life, preventing suicide is not one person’s responsibility. Many communities such as workplaces, schools and charities have a certain degree of responsibility. By organisations having mental health programs or workshops, this helps to raise awareness and creates a compassionate and empathetic culture.
Preventing suicide is a collective effort requiring us all to help break the stigma around mental health, offering support and promoting awareness. Open dialogue, empathy, a judgement free perception will help to reduce the stigma, and potentially save lives. We can work with each other to help prevent suicide and promote mental well-being.
Zero Suicide Alliance provides free online 20-minute suicide awareness training which can help you learn how to have a potentially life-saving conversation. The training is free and available to anyone aged sixteen or over.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time and struggling with their mental health, there are organisations on hand to listen, day or night.
• Call Connection – Dorset’s NHS mental health helpline – NHS 111
• Call Samaritans – on-hand to help, however big or small the problem – 116 123
• Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 for confidential support via text message
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Dorset Mind is a self-funded local charity that helps people in Dorset experiencing mental health problems access the vital support they need. The charity is at the very heart of our communities shaping futures, changing and in some cases literally saving lives.