In the UK and the Republic of Ireland, more than 6,000 people die by suicide a year - an average of 18 a day. Suicide levels in the Irish community in Britain have remained consistently high for over three decades and have not shown the decline seen in other populations. Mental ill–health and suicide are particular issues for Irish Travellers in addition to their low life expectancy and poor health profile.
World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and to promote action through proven means that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally.
This year’s theme focuses on hope. ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us; that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling. Preventing suicide is often possible and you are a key player in its prevention.
When it comes to saving more lives, we don’t have all of the answers yet but there are some simple steps that we can all take to help support ourselves and the people around us.
You can help give someone hope by showing that you care. We may never know what we do that makes a difference. We all can reach in and ask somebody. You do not need to tell them what to do or have solutions, but simply making the time and space to listen to someone about their experiences of distress or suicidal thoughts can help. Small talk can save lives and create a sense of connection and hope in somebody who may be struggling.
Stigma is a major barrier to help-seeking. Changing the narrative around suicide through the promotion of hope can create a more compassionate society where those in need feel more comfortable in coming forward to seek help. We can all do something to live in a world where suicide is recognised and we can all do something to help prevent it.
Share insights. The insights and stories of people with a lived experience of suicide can be extremely powerful in helping others understand suicide better and encourage people to reach in to support someone, and for individuals to reach out for help themselves. It’s really important that the person sharing their story knows how to do so in a way that is safe for them and for those who hear their story.
For more information about suicide prevention visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention here.
Additionally, Irish in Britain’s member organisation, icap (Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy), provides accessible, culturally sensitive therapy services to Irish migrants, and people of Irish descent, living in Britain.