World Suicide Prevention Day
Creating Hope Through Action
According to the World Health Organisation, there are more than 700,000 suicides per year.
In the UK, nearly 12 men die by suicide each day.
The male suicide rate was 15.8 per 100,000 people in 2021, and the female suicide rate was 5.5 per 100,000.
It’s the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50.
These statistics are shocking, and rightly so. Tragically, it just goes to show that most of us, in our lifetimes, will be close to someone who may be having suicidal thoughts. Even more tragically, we may never know that someone is struggling.
If you haven’t been in the grip of a mental health crisis yourself, it’s hard to imagine what it can feel like. It’s easy for us to stand on the sidelines and say that someone should ‘just reach out for help’. But when a person is at this level of critical mental health, that feels like an impossible task. This is especially true because of the societal stigma attached to therapy.
Talking therapy is an amazing tool, but in order to access it, you first have to admit that you’re struggling, which can feel impossible, especially if you’re not used to articulating your feelings. Then on top of that, you have to go through the challenge of actually finding a therapist, or going on a waiting list to be referred to one via your GP. For many people, that’s too much to handle. To put it into perspective: imagine that you’re holding a heavy bag, and someone comes along and says they can potentially help you, but only if you fill out some forms to explain how you got the bag and how much it weighs. During this time, you’ll need to continue to hold the bag, jump through some hoops, and potentially pick up some extra luggage along the way. You’d struggle too.
So, what can we do to help?
On September 10th, the World Health Organisation marked World Suicide Prevention Day, with the theme of ‘Creating hope through action’. If we, as individuals, as companies, and as families can raise awareness and create a space for people to be open about how they’re really doing, perhaps we can go some way to reducing the number of people who feel like they have no option. Because although those are statistics at the top, every one of those people was connected to someone, somehow, however tenuous.
That person that you see on the bus every day, who you never talk to? A connection. The colleague you check in with briefly on a Monday as you make a cup of tea in the communal kitchen? A connection. Your postie? A connection. No matter how small these relationships may seem, we all have a part to play in looking out for each other.
When you think of it like that, you might feel overwhelmed with responsibility. I’m not saying that you are personally responsible for the life of every person that you meet. But if you can bring genuine care to the interactions that you do have, you never know the impact that might have.
I’ve talked before about asking ‘how are you really?’ and it’s never been more relevant. What might seem like a simple chat to you is an opportunity for the other person to open up, or at least feel seen and cared about. Try to be authentic in your own interactions too. It’s scary to be honest, but the more you do it, the more others around you are likely to feel able to do the same. You create a safe space, and at a critical moment, that might be the thing that matters.
If you’re concerned about your own mental health, then take whichever first step feels most achievable to you, right now. If it feels too daunting to talk to friends and family at first, there are some incredible organisations out there to support you. If picking up the phone feels too hard, CALM (campaign against living miserably) offers a fantastic online chat service, as well as a space to write down your feelings anonymously. There’s no right or wrong way to get help.
Remember, when it comes to talking to your loved ones, many significant conversations around mental health are had on a walk, over a coffee, whilst you’re watching the TV – not necessarily in a therapy room. So listen out for signs that something isn’t quite right, or use these interactions to share something you’re finding difficult. By choosing to reach out, rather than brushing things off, we all stand a better chance of creating a more positive and natural narrative around mental health.
(Got feedback about this newsletter, or simply want to share your thoughts? Let me know by replying to this email. )
Struggling with this topic? Find support here.
Book a chat with me. I’m here to help you find clarity, confidence and control if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Get support from CALM: https://www.thecalmzone.net/get-support
Contact Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/
What I’ve been sharing this month...
Deciding who to disappoint. Ever wish you could be in two places at once? Me too. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible, nor should it be necessary. Making sustainable, considered decisions about how to spend your time is essential to your well-being. It’s better to show up fully to fewer commitments than spreading yourself too thin and under-serving everyone. Read my thoughts.
Being a grown-up. Work hard, play hard…and rest hard. Not perhaps the usual saying, but one I’m taking on board as I enter my 50s this month. Previously, I viewed balance as a finely tuned equation to achieve and then maintain, but now I think the key actually lies in flexibility and adjustment. Not every day is the same, and what some people view as rest isn’t necessarily that restful for the next person. For example: a long, exotic holiday sounds like the perfect respite for most people, but weirdly, I missed work. Find out why.
Back-to-work resilience. With many of us returning to work after the holiday season, the new term rush can feel overwhelming. I’ve previously shared some advice about how you can reduce the stress of going away, but coming back to work in a manageable manner is just as important. Before you jump back in, ask yourself: have I got a rest plan? Do I make time for rest in my schedule? Your ability to perform also depends on your ability to take proper breaks. Get my take on improving your rest ethic here.
I was awarded the Best Employee Wellness Coach award at the SME News’ 2023 Business Elite Awards. It’s always nice to be recognised, and I’ve been touched by the messages I’ve received since sharing the news. If you’re new around here, or simply want to further support your employees, I’m offering a limited number of my highly effective workshop and coaching packages at a discount. Take care of your team, and the rest will fall into place.
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in: James Pickles