Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), when people across the globe raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention. The theme this year is a ‘step closer’, aimed at encouraging connections and affirming that we all have a role to play in working together to prevent suicide.
Teams across the University of Northampton have included their thoughts about WPSD and how to help people get that all important step closer to those we think are experiencing mental health issues.
Emma Dillon, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, is one of UON’s Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) leads*.
She said: “Remember to check in and chat with those around you, even people who appear to be coping. Really listen to people – they may leave you little “invitations” that indicate they are not coping as well as they would like to be.
“Also, don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. It’s better to ask someone if they are OK than do nothing…you may be the only one who does.
“And be kind you yourself and recognise your own warning signs that your emotional wellbeing may need some attention.”
Claire Cross, HR Business Partner, works alongside Emma, leads on staff wellbeing and delivering MHFA to staff members across the University.
She focuses on the issue of male suicide: “In 2017, 75% of all suicides in Great Britain were male, suicide was the largest cause of death for men under 50, men are less likely to talk about mental health to family and friends** and access psychological therapies.
“In supporting men’s mental health and preventing suicide we need to challenge the stigma, break down the barriers and challenge the societal expectation that men should be strong and hide their feelings.
“Today, I ask you all to take a step closer to those around you. Connect with your colleagues, family and friends. Reach out if you are concerned, it is always better to have a difficult conversation and save a life.
“We have lots of resources available for our staff to help them prepare for that conversation and there is also this website for a mens’ mental health organisation.”
Zoe Nimmo, from the Northampton Students’ Union, added some extra words of support for UON students which echo Emma’s advice: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we live our lives which has consequently affected our mental health. If you think someone is struggling, there are certain things you can say and do that can help them feel less alone.
“Be present. Offer your support and let them know you are there if they need to talk, even if its sitting in silence or watching TV.
“Listen. If someone opens up to you, give them eye contact and really listen to them.
“Kindness. Let them know that you care about them, show kindness and try to understand how they feel.
“There are lots of different support services available at the University and the Students’ Union. From SU mental health first aid trained staff to counsellors at the University, we are all here for you. If you would like independent and confidential advice, you can contact our team by email.”
“There are also other helplines, such as The Samaritans and, of course, you can always suggest people speak to their GP.”
Suzy Wallace is a Counsellor in the University’s Counselling & Mental Health Team and notes the following steps people can take if they or someone they know has suicidal thoughts or has attempted suicide.
- Try and keep yourself safe from harm
- Speak to someone you trust and tell them how you are feeling, such as a friend, family member, colleague
- Call one of the helplines, such as the Samaritans
- Get an appointment with your GP as soon as possible
- Engage with your local mental health services
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. Although often used to help cope with painful feelings, they affect thinking and reasoning and if you are feeling suicidal, your feelings may become more intense.
- Call their GP surgery
- Call 999 or take them to A&E and stay with them until they are seen
- Don’t be afraid to involve their friends or family members.
- Take care of yourself and talk to someone your trust about how you are feeling.
*If you are interested in taking our online, half-day introduction to mental health courses, which provides confidence and skills in emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention, book online.
** Figures from: ONS, Public Health England and the Mental Health Foundation.
For more about International Suicide Prevention Day, see the IASP’s website.