What is World Suicide Prevention Day?
Organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation, the purpose of the day is to promote worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides.
Every year organisations and communities around the world come together to create awareness of one of our country’s biggest killers. In 2017, in the UK and Ireland alone, over 6,000 people died from suicide with the highest rate of suicide being among 45- to 49-year-old men.
Many of us spend a lot of our time at work, and workplaces can help to support people, whether by organisational approaches or individual colleagues reaching out.
Having mental health resources in the workplace shouldn’t just be a few posters in the breakout room or a monthly newsletter. These are a great start, however, to have a serious effect and to show a real commitment to their employees’ emotional health, organisations need to be proactive in embedding a mental health strategy into their work culture.
They need to ensure that their senior leaders and people managers have the language and skills necessary to lay the foundations for a mentally healthy workplace and a commitment to normalising the conversation around mental health, stress and resilience.
There are a lot of myths around mental ill-health and suicide – making employees aware of the facts could potentially save a life:
- You have to be mentally ill to think about suicide.
- People who threaten suicide are just seeking attention.
- Once a person has made a serious suicide attempt, that person is unlikely to make another.
- Talking about suicide is bad as it may give someone the idea to try it.
- If a person is seriously thinking about taking their own life, then there is nothing you can do.
- Most suicides happen in the winter months.
- There is a misconception that you have to be mentally ill to think about suicide, but the truth is around one in five adults say they have thought about suicide at some point. Suicidal thoughts can range from feeling that life isn’t worth living anymore to seriously considering taking your own life. Not all people who die by suicide have mental health issues – two in three suicides are by people who are not under mental health care.
- People who say they want to die should always be taken seriously. It may well be that they want attention in the sense of calling out for help, and giving them this attention may save their life.
- People with a history of attempting suicide are at an increased risk of dying by suicide. If someone has made an attempt on their life, it is essential they are given appropriate support and help.
- People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about what they were experiencing. Talking about suicidal feelings in an honest and non-judgmental way can help break down the stigma associated with it, meaning people are more likely to seek help and open up about how they feel. Talking about suicide will not put the idea in someone’s mind, but it will help make the topic less taboo.
- Suicide is not inevitable – it is preventable. Most people who experience suicidal thoughts don’t go on to take their own life.
- Suicide rates peak in the spring, but suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviour may happen to anyone at any time.