Suicide a taboo subject
In 2015, a total of 1,659 young people took their own lives.
Suicide is the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 in the UK.
On average, four young people end their own lives each day.
Half of mental health issues are established before the age of 14.
1 in 10 young people (aged 5-16) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem.
70% don’t receive appropriate interventions at an early enough age.
In 2017 there were 5,821 suicides registered in the UK.
What can we do to help?
These statistics are a hard reality and very difficult to read if you have a young person in your life. This situation will not get better unless we are all prepared to open our eyes and really take a look at what is going on around us. This means being aware of changes in those around us, at home, at work, at outside clubs etc. Sometimes suicide seems to be a bolt out of the blue, but if we look closer there are often subtle signs that we could pick up on if we only knew how to see them and what to look for.
A very simple example could be a person who suddenly starts giving things away saying they just don’t need them anymore, when you know they have not replaced them.
Knowing what signs to look out for and not being afraid to ask questions, even asking someone “do you have suicidal thoughts?” This is very tough but could start a conversation. That person then may feel they can open up, know they are not alone and be encouraged to seek help and support.
Places to start promoting mental health awareness
- Train teachers, school staff and those who work with young people to recognise the signs.
- Train those who work with young people how to respond.
- Encourage schools to be pro-active in providing guidance and information.
- Talk openly to all young people about mental well-being and where they can seek support.
- Canvass OFSTED to include suicide awareness assessment on school inspections.
- Encourage local businesses to protect and support the mental well-being of their staff.
- Encourage NHS and private health care providers to review their mental health care provision.
- Encourage all places where youngsters might congregate to put up posters with local information.
Talk about mental health and suicide!
By breaking the taboos and stigma, we can help those who are struggling but who feel unable to ask for help.
There are local organisations in Hertfordshire such as The Ollie Foundation and Hector’s House to name just two, and there are similar organisations all over the country. Google is a great place to start looking and of course your GP.
I was very lucky to be offered a place on a youth MHFA course run by MHFA England ‘Mental health first aid course’ and can now call myself a first aider. This has made me feel a lot more confident to be able to help. I learnt so much in those two days and wish I had known it many years ago when I was first made aware that my child was showing signs of mental health issues. At the time the GP sent us away saying that it was ‘a phase going round at the moment’ and they will get over it. I was unaware of the impact this information would have on our lives and all those around us.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed and having suicidal thoughts, talk to someone. Think of someone you feel OK to talk to – this could be your best friend, teacher, parent/family member, GP, HR at work etc.
You are not alone – many people feel very low at times and talking is the way forward.
If you have concerns about someone you know talk to them or ask someone to.
If you need to talk, call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. They are there for you 24/7, every day.
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