Suicide is everyone's business and we can all work together to prevent it. That’s the message NHS Health Scotland is sending out in East Dunbartonshire to mark this year’s Suicide Prevention Week (9-15 September 2019).
NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland worked together to develop an online resource ‘Ask Tell Save a Life: Every Life Matters’ to support suicide prevention, as part of the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
This online resource aims to raise awareness of the issues that affect people and which can sometimes lead them to think about taking their own life. The animation is designed to increase the confidence of individuals to support anyone in distress, by directing them to the specialist help they need at that time.
In 2017, 12 people in East Dunbartonshire took their own lives. The emotional impact on families, friends and communities is devastating, and can have long-lasting effects on those left behind.
This year's theme for Suicide Prevention Week is ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’ and people are being asked to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. If you’re worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.
The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be difficult to spot, but encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously, even if it seems a person is living a normal life. It also assures people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.
People who have tried to take their life can teach us about how the words and actions of others are important. They often talk movingly about reaching the point where they could see no alternative but to take their own life. Despite this, they also had a strong desire to live but wanted someone to intervene and stop them from ending their life. By taking a minute to show you care and asking directly about suicide, you could change their life.
Susan Manion, Chief Officer for the East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), said, “If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, you will normally notice. When changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – the most important aspect is to ask them about it.
“Talking openly about their feelings can help a person get clarity about what is troubling them. Starting this conversation helps them gain a perspective on their distress. You don’t need to have a solution to their problems – being there for them and listening, without judgement, shows that you care and their distress, and ultimately their happiness, is important to you.”
Susan added, “Ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought into their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to open up fully and acknowledge they need help and support. By taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life.”
Raising awareness of suicide prevention and giving the public information is vital. East Dunbartonshire HSCP will be working in partnership with NHS Health Scotland to raise awareness of this important issue by distributing information resources to East Dunbartonshire GP Practices, libraries and Community Hubs.
For advice about suicidal feelings, contact: