Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September 2015 is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Whether you are worried about someone else’s mental state, or you are thinking of suicide for yourself, there is help just a phone call or email away.

Suicide is subtle. It creeps upon you subtly and one day you find yourself seriously contemplating the abyss of death. For someone in that mental state, death seems like it would be a release from suffering which seems to occupy the entire mind, body and soul. It fills the senses and seems inescapable. Often, the last thing the sufferer wants to do is talk about it. It takes a special kind of intimacy and trust before the suicidal person will open up and talk.

The trouble is that suicide is still highly stigmatised by those who don’t understand. It is still labelled “weak”, “selfish”, “uncaring”. For example, consider how salaciously the tabloid media reported the deliberate crash of Germanwings Flight 9525. The voyeuristic approach of the tabloids shows how entrenched in the minds of many is the idea that suicide is a shameful taboo.

What happens when that viewpoint changes? What if those with suicidal ideas felt that they could talk more openly about their experiences without fear of being blamed and shunned? Think about it – the last thing a suicidal person needs is to hear that they are wicked. No, the suicidal person needs love, care, support and simply to be listened to and helped to understand their thoughts and feelings. You can be that person and you might save someone’s life.

If you are worried about someone whom you suspect might be contemplating suicide, the kindest thing you can do is simply to let them know that you will listen to them, without judgement, if they want to talk to you. If they do want to talk to you, just listen. Don’t give advice, judge or try to “fix” them. Here are just some of the ways you can help:

1.Just allow them to talk.

2.You can gently suggest that they make contact with their GP. Let them decide whether or not they want to do that.

3.Suggest that they talk to a counsellor. Once again, the decision is theirs.

4.Suggest that they talk to any of the agencies listed below.

There are many charities and agencies in the UK where suicidal people can get help. Here are a few: Samaritans, Mind, Console, CALM, Papyrus.

If you want more information and more help regarding suicide, visit The Alliance of Suicide Prevention Charities.

Also take a look at this personal message from the preeminent existentialist Emmy Van Deurzen. You are stronger than you think. Much stronger. You deserve to enjoy life to the full.

23rd September 2015