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World Suicide Prevention Day
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.
Look out for potential warning signs
One of the key ways we can help someone is to be more aware of potential warning signs. Though these can sometimes be difficult to spot, if someone you know shows signs of not being themselves, you will often notice. When changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – the most important thing you can do is to ask them about it.
Talking openly about feelings can help a person clarify what is troubling them. Starting this conversation can help them get some perspective on their distress. You don’t need to have a solution to their problems. Simply being there for them and listening without judgment shows that you care, and their wellbeing is important to you.
Ask the question
If you are still concerned, ask them 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 open up fully and acknowledge that they need help and support. By taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life.
Engage and support
The main aspect of supporting someone through this is compassion, listening and most importantly not over-reacting or becoming upset. Remaining calm and talking the situation through is extremely important.
There are 5 simple steps to be being more suicide ALERT:
• Ask if you think someone may be thinking about suicide • Listen Carefully to what the person is saying • Encourage them to talk further • Right now what action will you take to support safety • Talk to someone to support yourself
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.
Finally, if you are feeling suicidal, don’t hide it. Talk to someone
Mental Health Crisis Helplines
If you're in crisis and need to talk right now, there are many helplines staffed by trained people ready to listen. They won't judge you, and could help you make sense of what you're feeling.