World Suicide Prevention Day: How to Help Someone You Know

The 10th September each year marks World Suicide Prevention Day. We are keen to join thousands of people and organisations across the globe to prevent lives from being lost to suicide. The aim of this campaign is to find better ways to empower and educate individuals and companies, so we can work together to ensure fewer people take their own lives.

The Chakra team are here to help your employees feel more comfortable in managing their mental health issues. If you are worried about anyone who seems to be struggling, we hope this article proves helpful.

“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy.”

Suicide affects 1 person every 45 seconds

According to the Office for National Statistics, 5224 people took their own life during 2020. That is the equivalent of 10 people in every 100,000 taking their own lives. And the ripple effect caused by such a tragedy is felt across families, friends and colleagues. Interestingly, this is a decrease from 2019, when the pandemic only served to compound many people’s existing mental health issues. It’s thought that this is likely to be due to a delay in death registrations and fewer male suicides at the start of the pandemic.

Helping a colleague whom you suspect may have mental health issues could seem like a minefield. We have all heard that men are at greater risk of suicide and sadly, our latest statistics support this fact. When it comes to men the mortality rate leaps to 15.4 per 100,000 people and accounts for three-quarters of registered suicides. Therefore, raising awareness of suicide prevention is an important issue and one that requires organisations and individuals to work together. But the main difficulty is often recognising when someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts and then knowing how best to support them.

Highest suicide rates - Men aged 45 - 49

Statistically, male suicide rates have been much higher than females for decades, and there are many opinions on why this is the case. Some behavioural experts suggest women are more likely to form close friendship groups and share their feelings as opposed to men. Others argue that societal stigmas around mental health still exist, resulting in men feeling unable to discuss their feelings and the need for them “to be strong” and “boys don’t cry”. You may find such stigmas exist in your own workplace.

Andy Salkeld’s Broken the Stigma? digs deeper into the issues surrounding the stigma of mental illness in the workplace. Salkeld’s research shows that people report the fear of stigma is worse than living with the mental illness itself. Such stigmas are often a huge emotional obstacle for someone struggling with suicidal ideation and this can result in a tragic loss of life. You may have colleagues who feel unable to seek help, so it is important to create an open environment for people to feel able to discuss their mental health issues.

Salkeld’s findings conclude that education and contact within professional service firms can help to reduce workplace stigmas surrounding mental health. So, how can you help someone whom you suspect may have mental health issues, but seems hesitant to come forward and ask for help?

Supporting those with suicidal thoughts

Assure them that it’s okay to not feel okay and together you will work through their issues. Whether you are trying to support a family, friend or fellow colleague, be available for that person and try to encourage them to talk. Find a quiet place to have a coffee or go for a walk together. Show them that you care, see their value and worth because this in turn will help to give that person a sense of hope. Listen to them; you don’t have to have all the answers.

If you know someone is finding life difficult and they are unable to talk, encourage them to keep a gratitude journal. Start by suggesting they write down three things each day they are grateful for and encourage them to find new things each time. Over the past year, this technique has become increasingly popular with those who have never experienced mental health issues previously and who have found life during the pandemic very difficult.

When a person is expressing suicidal thoughts, it’s important to take them seriously. By offering awareness, education and support to your staff, this could mean the difference between life and death. Together let’s try to prevent more lives from being lost to suicide.
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