Being under 45 and male means I fall into a demographic which is more likely to die by taking their own life than any other cause.
Not only that, it also means the majority of my friends fall into that same group.
Whatever the reasons, be it the way we’ve been brought up, the influence society has had on us or just simply not knowing how – men haven’t felt able to seek out the help they need for a long time.
The reality is, we still have a long way to go until every man or woman feels they would be supported should they choose to take that first step. Sure, we’ve gotten better at it but there’s still so much work to be done.
For a lot of people professional help may be out of reach, long waiting times, expensive services and the fear of opening up for the first time can all act as barriers.
That’s why it’s integral that we shoulder some of that responsibility, by checking up on our own friends and family as often as we can.
Obviously that doesn’t mean asking someone “are you ok?” every minute of every day. Something as simple as inviting them out for food, to the pub or for a coffee can make the world of difference.
Speaking from my own experience, just knowing that I’ve been in someone’s thoughts when they’ve been making plans can make me feel a thousand times better.
Over the last couple of years I’ve found myself in some incredibly dark places, places that I couldn’t have imagined and places that in the past I wouldn’t have dreamed about speaking openly about.
I can honestly say that on so many occasions the major factor in me being pulled out of that place was something as small as a mate asking me if I was coming to watch the football.
It may sound like a cliché, something that for many would seem like such an insignificant event. But it can make the world of difference.
It’s hard to explain why. It acts as escapism, I’m under no illusion that it doesn’t make every problem suddenly vanish but for at least 90 minutes there’s something else to occupy my mind.
And everyone else has their own versions of this escapism, everyone has their own ‘watching football at the pub’ and we should all be encouraging each other to find theirs. Even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.
I’ve been lucky enough to find myself surrounded by extremely good people, friends and family who I quite literally owe everything too. Not everyone is as lucky as that though, which makes these little actions that bit more integral.
If we all get into the habit of putting in that bit of effort, the difference could be massive. That text or passing comment could quite literally save a life – and when it’s put into that context it suddenly seems a lot less awkward.
While the idea of ‘speaking up’ might sound like a bit of a cliché, the impact it can have is huge. This is never going to be an easy subject to open up about, so encouraging anyone you’re concerned about can make a world of difference. Learn how to spot the signs of someone struggling. Open up. Save a Life. Take the ZSA training.
The Zero Suicide Alliance is a collaborative of National Health Service trusts, businesses and individuals who are all committed to suicide prevention in the UK and beyond. The alliance is ultimately concerned with improving support for people contemplating suicide by raising awareness of and promoting FREE suicide prevention training which is accessible to all.
Learn how to spot the signs of suicidal thinking and protect the ones you love; go to Zero Suicide Alliance’s Website and take the free online training. It only takes 20 mins and could help you to help save a life.
In need of urgent help?
Are you having suicidal thoughts?
If you are feeling very distressed, despairing or suicidal and need immediate help, please contact your GP and ask for an emergency appointment. If your GP is closed, consider calling the national non-emergency number in your country (in the UK this is 111 or 0845 46 47 in Wales) if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation. You can also call 111 in the UK if you’re not sure which NHS service you need.
Or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department where a mental health practitioner will be able to assess you and give you appropriate help.
Are you concerned about someone else?
If you are concerned that someone else is very distressed and might be suicidal, please ask them to contact their GP and ask for an emergency appointment. If their GP is closed, ask them to consider calling the national non-emergency number in your country (in the UK this is 111 or 0845 46 47 in Wales) if they urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation. They can also call 111 in the UK if they’re not sure which NHS service they need.
In a life-threatening situation, you may also choose to contact emergency services (In the UK this is 999).
You can call Samaritans for free on 116 123.
The Hub of Hope – an online resource, provided by Chasing the Stigma, developed to support individuals with mental health issues and to signpost them to their local services. This site allows you to search by UK postcode to find out what support services are available locally to you.
Part of a paid partnership with Zero Suicide Alliance.