Suicide has hit the headlines repeatedly throughout 2018 - most notably to cover many high-profile deaths, including Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade just a couple of months ago. Last week, it was big news once again, as the UK government hosted the first ever global mental health summit and Theresa May appointed Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role of suicide prevention, to help tackle stigma surrounding suicide.
As we mentioned briefly on World Mental Health Day last week, this is an incredibly important step, and health ministers have an extremely important role to play in providing leadership and coordinating across sectors, to effectively engage them in suicide prevention activities. But away from political decision-making, as members of the general public, is there anything we can do to help the country progress in decreasing our suicide rates?
Let's Start with the Facts:
Last year in the UK, 5,821 suicides were registered in the UK. Males accounted for ¾ of these (4,382), which has continued to be the case since the mid-1990’s (Office of National Statistics).
These rates have been on a downward trend since National Statistics began in 1981 (down from 14.0 deaths per 100,000 males to 19.4 per 100,000), however, it’s still the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, so it goes without saying that much improvement needs to be made, and fast.
The most important thing we can all do is try to address the widespread stigma. Suicide can seem frightening, especially as it seems against human nature to when thought about with a rational state of mind. But it’s important to remember that suicide is a medical problem, most often associated with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety and bipolar. (It is estimated that more than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder.) There often doesn't seem to be a notion of taboo when discussing serious physical illnesses openly, so we need to make sure we're taking the same approach with mental illnesses too.
A lot of people feel like they do not have another option or anyone to talk to. So, the more openly we can talk about this subject, the more we can hopefully encourage anyone struggling to come forward.
As always, if you or someone you know is struggling with anything covered in this blog post, reach out to someone who can help or call a free hotline:
Call: 116 123 – Open 24/7
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day