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Blog: World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2020)

Today, Scotland launches a national campaign inviting people to unite to prevent suicide, to recognise that we can all play a part and that suicide is everyone’s business.

Together We Can Save lives: Let’s Talk suicide.

As Midlothian Suicide Prevention Development worker, I am well aware of just how true this message is. There is nothing inevitable about suicide, and with the right support at the right time, suicide is preventable. Most people contemplating suicide do not want to die, they want to end the pain they are experiencing at a particular time.

We can support each other and help just through engaging with others and showing we care. One of the key ways we can do this 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 get clarity about 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 judgement shows that you care and that their wellbeing is important to you.

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 be able 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.

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 ideas about how to have conversations with someone who may be considering suicide, the following short video is really helpful.

Ask, Tell Have a Healthy Conversation (short animated video):

Finally, if you are feeling suicidal, don’t hide it. Talk to someone you trust or phone one of the helplines listed here  

Simon Miller, Midlothian Suicide Prevention Development Worker

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