On September the 10th it is World Suicide Prevention Day. This year’s theme is: CREATING HOPE THROUGH ACTION.
This is a subject that is very close to my heart, and for those of you who read my blog regularly, you will know that I like to encourage people to talk and share their experiences and struggles about mental health. Like a lot of other people, I have had my own challenges with mental health and on occasions I still do.
As many as 1 in 20 of us have thoughts of suicide, and in my lowest points I can relate to this.
Wherever you live there’s an area that people go to take their own life. Everyone knows about it, every one hears about it. Near me there’s a bridge over the motorway, and just a few weeks ago I remember driving to work and the traffic was bumper to bumper. I remember stressing about getting into the office on time. I was due to deliver training that morning and I didn’t want to be late. I remember cursing, puffing and panting, as it’s not unusual where I live for this to happen, accidents occur all the time on the motorway. Anyway, whilst I was doing this I was listening to the radio, it was then that I heard the awful news that someone had taken their own life by jumping off ‘the bridge’. I immediately felt guilty about the selfish thoughts I had go through my mind, and I felt awful sadness that someone had felt so alone and desperate to take their own life.
Suicide Prevention is one of the sessions I teach. During the session some of you may remember I play a little clip about ‘Kevin Hines.’ Kevin is a man that jumped of the Golden Gate bridge in the US and survived – you can find this video on Youtube.
Kevin talks about his sad journey to the bridge, and about how distressed he was on the way to the bridge. People made fun of him on the bus on the way to the bridge. At the time he was responding to the voices he was hearing, and he was crying and shouting out loud. When he got to the bridge whilst crying, with mucus dripping from his nose, a woman asked if he could take a photo of her family, which he did, and even she didn’t ask if he was OK. Why?
There were police that patrolled the bridge whose job was to look for people thinking about jumping. They just walked past him several times, even though he was leaning over the bridge. They didn’t stop and ask him if he was OK. Again, I ask myself Why?
I thought about this local man whilst the car was standing still in a jam, and I wondered how many people had driven, walked or jogged past this man on the bridge that morning, who could have potentially intervened and stopped this tragic loss of life. I wondered if he had tried to talk to someone about how he was feeling, as statistically the majority of people do.
I appreciate that it’s a personal choice whether to get involved or not. But I’m pretty sure that those people who chose to ignore that man on the bridge that day, at least some of them I’m sure must be feeling an element of guilt about it. If only they knew that just engaging him in conversation can make all the difference between life or death for this man. Just showing that you give a damn, by to stopping to listen can save a life.
Suicide First Aid teaches us to trust your gut feeling, if there’s something about a person’s behaviour or situation (like standing on a bridge distressed,) it’s important to ask them if they are thinking about suicide.
Statistically if you ask them this question, it doesn’t increase the possibility of them doing it, actually it decreases, because it shows the person, that you care. Even if you feel uncomfortable asking the suicide question, just engaging them in conversation may be enough to prevent them from taking their life in that moment, and it gives you the opportunity to get them some help and support.
Part of the World Suicide Prevention Day the IASP’s (International Association for Suicide Prevention) theme is about ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ by encouraging understanding, reaching in and sharing experiences, giving people the confidence to take action, and is asking us to help prevent suicide by becoming a beacon of light to those in pain.
You can be the light.
If you would like to find out more about Suicide Prevention Day you can find it here
If you are struggling yourself or are thinking about suicide, please reach out and call the Samaritans. They are available 24hours a day and have trained counsellors on the end of the phone you can talk to.
You can call them on:
116 or 123 or text SHOUT to 85258
If you want to share your stories of your own particular experience of mental health and what has helped you, or if you would like to contribute to the blog you can reply directly or e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org
It would be great to hear from you.