What Can We Do?’s Spotlight series has launched this week, as a way to shine a light on the issues facing the UK today. The series will present bitesize, easily digestible facts while also directing to specialist resources and groups for further information on the issue. As always we will be highlighting ways you can get involved to make a difference.
Each week we will be looking at a different topic, kicking off with some key facts on our social media, followed by an article with direct links to ways you can do your bit.
This week we are taking a look at some of the facts around suicide.
It can be extremely difficult for people experiencing suicidal thoughts to talk about them, and difficult for friends and family to know how to approach the conversation.
There is still a stigma surrounding the topic of suicide - but two consistent messages are clear amongst all of the charities doing suicide prevention work:
1. Recovery is possible
2. Talking saves lives!
So how can you help?
Knowledge is power, as they say. Increasing your understanding of the issues around suicide creates a more informed and empathetic community, and lead towards a society where people can feel able to express their feelings, and recover from difficult times. You don’t need to be a trained counsellor to support people or save lives.
Talking about suicide does not make it more likely to happen.
Engage with groups who focus on suicide prevention work.
Their websites are full of resources to better equip you to better deal with the topic of suicide, whether it is you that is struggling or a loved one.
Papyrus’ #SpotTheSigns video helps people recognise if a young person in their life is struggling, and how to handle it. Their Conversation Starters poster gives actual phrases you can say to open a discussion about suicide. Young Minds’ feelings and symptoms section explains about common feelings and mental health symptoms and what to do next.
Read around the subject
News articles can be a good way to get a picture of what’s happening in society.
This BBC article (June 2020) looks into the significant rise in LGBTQ+ people accessing suicide prevention resources during the UK’s lockdown period. Eight charities reported that they had seen an increase. It is widely understood that people in the LGBTQ+ community are at greater risk of taking their own lives, although no national data on this is kept.
Be aware of how suicide is reported in the news and ensure that you do not ‘sensationalise’ it in your mind or in your discussions. The Samaritans has a guide for sensitive reporting. It focuses on how important using the correct language is when reporting on suicide.
Join the campaigns for better mental health
With mental health being one of the major influences on suicidal thoughts and behaviours, pressure on mental health services is increasing. Leading to many people not being able to access services they need in a timely manner.
Read the open letter to the Prime Minister signed by more than 50 CEOs of suicide prevention and mental health charities, to understand what changes need to be made by the government to reduce suicide rates and improve mental health across the UK in a COVID-19 environment. Young Minds is also calling on the government to ensure young people’s mental health is considered in the COVID-19 response and recovery, and encouraging early action when signs of mental ill-health are spotted.
Make a donation
It’s not pretty, but charities and groups doing vital suicide prevention work could not run without donations.
Grassroots’ life-saving suicide prevention training is delivered to 1000 people each year. £5 covers the distribution cost of life saving resources.
Donations can be made to Papyrus online, or via text. You can also purchase merchandise from their online shop, from pin badges, water bottles, t-shirts and colouring books, to Christmas decorations and more.
Donate to helplines seeing a surge in demand
A £5 donation to the Samaritans funds one phone call to their helpline. One in three calls to their helpline is COVID-19 related.
£8 can answer one potentially life-saving call to the CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) helpline. They have seen record demand for their services and a 37% increase in daily calls in the first week of lockdown.
£20 could run MIND’s peer support community Elefriends for an hour, helping to connect people and let them know they’re not alone.
NSPCC's Childline has seen a surge in calls to their helpline from young people struggling to cope and having suicidal thoughts. A £10 donation could make sure every phone call is answered, and you can even set up your Amazon Alexa to make a donation via Amazon Pay.
For the LGBTQ+ community
LGBT Hero reported 11,000 visits to its suicide prevention resources, up 44% on the first three months of the year. It relies on community donations to support - you can donate here.
National LGBT charity Stonewall has many ways you can donate, from regular or one-off donations through to becoming an Ambassador, wearing your support and Amazon Smile - meaning you can raise funds for free!
Donate to mental health charity MindOut, which runs life-saving services to the LGBTQ+ community in Brighton and Hove. You can also sell your items through their eBay charity account, setting an amount of the profits to be donated to the charity.
For Black communities:
The London borough of Lambeth has the highest number of Black people accessing mental health services in the UK. Donate to Black Thrive’s Community Therapeutic Fund, to provide free and affordable culturally appropriate mental health support to Black people in Lambeth affected by institutional violence and racism.
Black Minds Matter links as many back individuals and families in the UK with certified, professional black practitioners to treat mental health issues as a priority.
More things you might like:
Each week we publish more ideas on how you can get involved. If you know of any initiatives in your community that you think we should promote get in touch.
Are you an organisation, charity, writer, or simply have something to say? Do you want to write a Spotlight blog or be our next guest blogger for our Voices of Change blog series? Then please get in touch.
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