In the UK & Republic of Ireland, there were 6,859 suicides in 2018, an 11.8% rise.
Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience some kind of mental health problem each year. Despite that reports indicate only one in eight adults are currently receiving treatment.
For years I had dismissed my struggles as nothing more than being a bit awkward and nervous. It actually took us nearly losing my dad for me to realise something was actually wrong.
Towards the end of my time in university he fell extremely ill and we were warned to prepare for the worst. The whole situation sent me into a spiral. I struggled to deal with day-to-day life and my coping mechanisms were far from healthy.
I’d find myself trying to plaster over the way I felt, usually by staying out until stupid hours of the morning and drinking way more than I should ever have done. Being at university made that easy, on the surface it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary but deep down I knew my reasons stemmed from a dangerous place.
The first time I opened up about how I was feeling came in fairly underwhelming but typical fashion. Outside my mates flat at around 2am while rolling a cigarette. Admittedly I didn’t let everything out that morning, though it definitely set me on the right path and looking back, was probably one of the most important conversations I’ll ever have.
If anyone is struggling to find the right time to speak up about their problems, there’s no denying that any time is going to be a little scary. I just chose a point where I felt the most comfortable and with friends I trusted.
People are always more willing to listen than you think they’re going to be. This is something I cannot stress enough. Odds are they’re going through their own issues and will welcome the chance to have that discussion. Once that initial barrier is broken down it becomes easier and easier every time you need to talk.
It took me a while after that to seek out help from a professional, the thought of using medication to tackle my problems was something that scared me. Again though, as soon as I did I quickly realised it wasn’t anywhere near as scary or as bad as I thought it might be.
My biggest regret through the whole thing was that I didn’t speak up sooner and more than that, realising that there were people there willing to listen – whether it’s friends, family or professionals.
Sure those first conversations can feel uncomfortable and a little messy but the sooner you get to it the sooner you can hopefully begin tackling the issues head-on.
Fast-forward a couple of years and I regularly write and talk openly about my mental health. It’s turned into a way to channel any negative thoughts and turn them into something constructive. Of course there are ups and downs but since that first conversation I’ve never looked back.
The other biggest take-away is that you shouldn’t feel guilty about your mental health. For the longest time, I felt like I shouldn’t feel the way I did because so many people were far worse off than I was. That’s not how this works though. You wouldn’t think that way about catching a cold and ultimately, that’s what this is, an illness. This can affect anyone and everyone and there’s nothing to feel bad about.
Trying to summarise the whole experience is difficult, especially without sounding clichéd. However I will say this, things can and will get better. Whatever point you’re at, things can always improve and as a society, we’re better equipped at dealing with these issues. All you have to do is take those first steps.
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.