Breaking the Taboo | Spotlight On: Suicide

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.

Spotlight on Suicide Social Media graphic

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.

The Samaritans’ myth busters and key facts help clarify the realities, and Black Thrive has a section on its website with information about how black people can develop and grow.

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.

Also note the BBC article (March 2019) Why more men than women die by suicide and The Independent's (September 2019) Suicides rise to 16 year high across UK.

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.

The Samaritans have a number of ongoing campaigns you can get involved with. Also see how you can support World Suicide Prevention Day, celebrate every year on 10th September.

Both Black Thrive and MIND have a number of campaigns and projects to promote better mental health and improve services all across society, from housing and healthcare, to school exclusions.

Make a donation

It’s not pretty, but charities and groups doing vital suicide prevention work could not run without donations.

PAPYRUS phone donation message

Donate to helplines seeing a surge in demand

For the LGBTQ+ community

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.

Don't give up, You are not alone and you matter signs on a gate

For more ways you can help visit our Donations page and our Actions page.

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Black Lives Matter: How to support the BAME community during COVID-19

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How signing petitions can make a difference

We ask kids: What can we do to make the world a better place?

Have some more time to give? Find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and at our website for more inspiration.

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.

man typing on a laptop on his desk next to a mug and pen and paper

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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