I have written before of my experience with mental health issues, not my own, but how other’s battles have affected my life, and the lives of those I love. And of suicide. How the suicide of a loved one has long lasting and devastating effects for those left behind.
As part of Mental Health Week this week I was approached and asked if I would donate a blog post to raise awareness of a charity doing crucial work to try and prevent suicide.
Suicidal thoughts are far more common than people realise but we don’t talk about them. Stigma means that it can be embarrassing or frightening to tell another person and this is absolutely critical to getting help. As a psychiatrist, I have seen hundreds of people with suicidal thoughts and many people who tried to end their life and then changed their minds. In far too many cases that person had suffered in silence and was too scared to tell anyone how they felt.
The stigma surrounding suicide means that most people do not know how to approach someone who they think might be suicidal. People who are considering self harm or suicide do not know where or how to get help. At Connecting with People we, and our partners, are dedicated to tackling these issues.
I am therefore delighted, on behalf of Connecting with People, to support Grassroots and their partners Suicide Safer Brighton & Hove initiative and 2013 World Suicide Prevention Day campaign. The WSPD 2013 Campaign objective focus on stigma is, in my view, absolutely critical to saving lives.
Suicidal thoughts usually start because people feel overwhelmed by their problems or their situation. This can happen to absolutely anyone. People find it hard to ‘see a way out’. It is not that they necessarily want their life to end: it is just that they cannot cope with their emotional or physical pain any more.
Suicide prevention is like a massive jigsaw puzzle – it looks really complicated until we get close and see its just made up of small pieces – all we have to do is look after our piece of the puzzle – know how we can stay safe and where to get help if we are worried about someone. The first step is to recognise that life is not going well and to know that support is available if you just know what to do and where to go.
Please sign up to the Grassroots pledge – help save a life … it could be yours or someone you love.
Chris Brown is Director of Grassroots Suicide Prevention, a small charity with big ideas, based in Brighton.
To find out more about Grassroots Suicide Prevention, and to learn about ASIST and other suicide prevention training programmes, visit www.prevent-suicide.org.uk
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide and need to talk to someone, contact the Samaritans by phone 08457 90 90 90 or email firstname.lastname@example.org