Suicidal thoughts are more common than you might think. 

Many people think about suicide at some point during their lives. Thankfully, for the majority, these thoughts are extremely fleeting and don’t result in any action.

However, sadly 6,524 people in the UK took their own lives in 2019 alone.

With the stress, strain and pain many frontline workers have experienced since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to break down the stigma of talking about suicidal thoughts.

At Connect2Care, we know that suicide is not inevitable. Suicide can be prevented with the right support. And suicidal thoughts can be successfully managed with a variety of different treatment methods. 

What is World Suicide Prevention Day?

The 10th of September each year marks World Suicide Prevention Day. On this day, communities from across the world come together to raise awareness of suicidal thoughts and suicide prevention. 

There sadly remains a social stigma connected to openly discussing suicidal and suicidal thoughts. World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity for us to spark the conversation and break down barriers to talking about this sensitive subject.

Understanding suicide and suicidal thoughts

Suicide is when someone deliberately ends their own life. Suicidal thoughts are when someone is thinking about or planning their own suicide.

Until 1961, it was illegal to take your own life – which is where the term ‘committed suicide’ comes from. 

Suicide is no longer a criminal offence and so the word ‘committed’ shouldn’t be used when discussing suicide. Other terms such as ‘completed’ or ‘attempted’ should be used to prevent anyone in distress from feeling further anguish at their situation.

If someone expresses suicidal thoughts, this doesn’t mean they are intending on taking their own life in the near future. It is essential to take anyone expressing suicidal feelings extremely seriously and take steps to try and keep them safe.

Potential warning signs for suicide

Everyone will experience suicidal feelings in a different and unique way. 

With the added pressure many workers will be feeling in the wake of COVID-19, it’s possible that there could be a spike in those experiencing suicidal feelings. This means it’s all the more important to be aware of the potential warning signs that someone is feeling suicidal or likely to attempt suicide. 

Potential warning signs that someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts may include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Talking or writing about dying, death or suicide
  • Making financial preparations, such as writing or updating a will
  • Recent experience of trauma or life crisis, such as the death of a loved one
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about being a burden or nuisance to others
  • Seeming anxious, agitated or acting recklessly
  • Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawing from social activities and feeling isolated

What to do if someone expresses suicidal thoughts

If someone confides in you that they are experiencing suicidal thoughts, the most important first step is to provide them with the opportunity to talk about their feelings. 

You should make sure you choose a safe space for them to open up where you’re unlikely to be disrupted. Ask them open questions, remembering to be sensitive and not dismiss their concerns.

It may be an uncomfortable discussion, but remember to listen to them carefully, remain calm and provide them with reassurance. You’re supporting someone through an extremely tough moment in their life. Your time and support could help save their life.

If you believe the person is in serious danger, has tried or is likely to try taking their own life, it’s important to stay with them and call the emergency services. 

If they’re not actively planning to take their life, help them to seek professional help – this could be their GP or their local mental health service if they are already under their care.

The importance of First Aid for Mental Health training

First Aid for Mental Health is a series of training courses which will educate your workforce to identify, understand and support someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue.

By having First Aid for Mental Health experts within your setting/s, your workforce will have a main point of contact if they are going through some form of mental health problem. 

Your Mental Health First Aiders will be able to identify the early signs and symptoms of poor mental health and start conversations with these people to begin helping and signposting them to the most relevant professional support.

Free First Aid for Mental Health Training

At Connect2Care, we’re passionate about promoting good mental health for all. That’s why we’re offering our Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health training course completely free of charge to support employers who want to be more mental health inclusive, but don’t have the funds to do so.

Two staff members from any business in the UK are eligible for the online tutor-led learning. This initiative has been launched in response to growing concerns around mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

To apply for your free place, please email: [email protected]

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