A suicide-safer community is a collective effort to decrease suicide rates and alleviate the stigma surrounding suicide, as when it happens, it can impact entire communities.
Take Cumbria in 2019, for example, where an alarming one person succumbed to suicide weekly, sparking community-wide action from Suicide Safer Copeland, which was led by Every Life Matters, a Cumbria Suicide Prevention Charity set up in 2018.
In this article, we'll explore the importance of contributing to a suicide-safer community and provide key tips and strategies to make a positive impact.
Remember, suicide prevention isn't solely dependent on official bodies - friends, family, and neighbours also play life-saving roles.
Understanding the Problem
To build a suicide-safer community, it's crucial to first understand the gravity of the problem. Suicide is a global public health concern, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 700,000 people die by suicide each year. It's the fourth leading cause of death among individuals aged 15 to 29.
Ways We Can All Contribute to a Suicide-Safer Community
Become Aware of the Warning Signs of Suicide
Recognising the early warning signs of suicide is pivotal to creating a safer community. Your alertness can potentially save a life. Here are a few key signs to look out for:
- Persistent sadness or hopelessness: It's distressing but normal to feel down occasionally. However, if someone seems perpetually gloomy, they may need help.
- Emotional detachment: A sudden disinterest in activities they once enjoyed can be a warning.
- Expressing thoughts of suicide: The majority of those contemplating suicide speak about it in some form.
- Intentional isolation: If someone drastically reduces social interaction, don't overlook it.
Remember, being attentive to these signs and talking openly about suicide with the person concerned can prevent the irreversible.
Destigmatising Mental Health
One of the primary barriers to creating a suicide-safer community is the stigma associated with mental health issues. To address this, we must actively work to destigmatise mental health problems. Encourage open conversations about mental health, emphasising that it's okay to seek help when needed.
Raising awareness about suicide prevention is essential. Communities can organise workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns to educate people about the signs of suicide risk, dispel common myths and share how to intervene effectively.
Foster a Supportive Environment
Building a supportive environment is crucial for individuals struggling with mental health issues. Encourage kindness, empathy, and active listening within your community.
Accessible Mental Health Resources
Ensure that mental health resources and services are readily accessible to everyone in the community. This includes affordable counselling services and crisis hotlines.
Provide Training and Education
Encourage local community organisations to host training programs in suicide prevention for community members, educators, and first responders. Knowledge about recognising warning signs and providing appropriate support is invaluable.
Here at Mental Health in Business, we will be running our public/open Suicide First Aid Training courses during October. And to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, we are offering a 20% discount on our Suicide First Aid Training courses when you book your place before 30th September.
Teach resilience-building skills to individuals, especially young people. Resilient individuals are better equipped to cope with life's challenges.
Help individuals connect with others in the community. Loneliness and isolation are significant risk factors for suicide.
Encourage Seeking Help
Promote the importance of seeking professional help when experiencing mental health challenges—normalise therapy and counselling.
Monitor High-Risk Groups
Identify and provide extra support to high-risk groups, such as veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals, and those with a history of mental health issues.
Offer support and resources to those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Grief support groups can be invaluable.
Develop a Community Awareness Campaign
Building a suicide-safer community is vital. It relies on collective effort and understanding. Here are some tips for developing a community awareness campaign:
- Recognise the importance. Acknowledge that suicide prevention is everybody's business.
- Begin with education. Dispel myths and promote understanding of suicide.
- Actively target high-risk areas. Pay close attention to geographic or demographic communities with high incidences.
- Get involved. Pledge your support, use free resources, publicise through social media, and join in community action.
- Foster openness. Encourage frank and non-judgmental discussions about suicide.
- Train key members. Provide practical training to community gatekeepers and peer supporters.
- Ensure bereavement support. Promote awareness and provisioning of support for those affected by suicide.
Creating a suicide-safer community is a shared responsibility that requires compassion, understanding, and proactive efforts.
By implementing these essential tips and strategies, we can work together to reduce suicide rates and foster a more supportive and empathetic society.