Today is world suicide prevention day.
What can we say to make it better? Nothing.
What can we do? Plenty.
Suicide is the leading cause of death between the ages of 15 – 29. A stunning and a terrifying statistic. In England hospitals see over 200,000 self-harm episodes per year, making it one of the commonest reasons to seek urgent health care.
Mental Elf provides a number of brilliant blogs and reviews about suicide and self-harm, if you want to know more.
Many words will be written about suicide this week – but so often the impact is unexplainable, the reasons inexplicable and the rest of our lives feel unbearable. Hopeless. Guilty. Meaningless. Our friends or family members who have taken their own lives have left but a frail trailing remnant of their mood, and we stand there feeling alone – stricken and powerless in our unknowing. It is hard to move on from there.
So we must act – in the here and now – speak, and move and act. We should be ready to respond when we see there is a problem, and not hide behind our embarrassment, or turn away when just one word could make a difference.
In a helpful posting on a government website today, Prof Louis Appleby (Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Prevention Group) suggests:
Don’t see people who self-harm as having caused their own problems – they are often victims of abuse, depressed or in family crisis.
Don’t dismiss them as time-wasters, even when they keep coming back – suicide risk goes up, not down, with repeated self-harm.
And remember that self-harm starts to drop off in the mid-20s – support people into early adulthood and many will put their traumas behind them.