Every Suicide Is Preventable

13/09/2016 13:09
Shutterstock / mast3r

I was on a train the other day, and a few seats along, four blokes were discussing Brexit. They weren't being loud as such, but I could hear them pretty clearly, and what they had to say on the matter. I'm not sure if they were aware that I was listening, but they certainly didn't seem to be embarrassed or ashamed to be overheard.

The question this raised for me was how do some topics become socially acceptable to discuss, even if they are a bit prickly and complicated, and some remain off limits? We feel comfortable discussing lots of things with our mates but so many people, and men in particular, would never talk about their mental health. We can change this, and it could save lives.

Last Saturday, 10 September, was World Suicide Prevention Day. It is an often quoted fact but one that bears repeating is that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. That's nearly 5,000 fathers, brothers, partners and friends a year.

This is why a group of charities and organisations came together a number of years ago to form the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) working towards one goal; preventing suicide in the UK.

To mark the day the NSPA teamed up with Andy's Man Clubs to let men all over the country know that "It's okay to talk" and to seek help before problems become overwhelming.

Suicide is extremely complex but one thing we've seen time and again is how people, men in particular, let their problems build up in silence and reach crisis point before telling anyone how they feel.

One of our ambassadors, Jonny Benjamin, often talks about how it was shame and embarrassment about how he was feeling and what he was experiencing that led him to attempt suicide.

Suicide prevention needs to start far before a person reaches the point where they want to take their own lives. If men feel able to talk and ask for help when they need it, it means that problems don't start to feel suffocating and consuming.

Stress and occasional unhappiness are part of life and something we all go through. They often stem from events we can't necessarily control like relationships ending, a bereavement or problems with work. What we can control is our reaction to these events and the emotions they bring.

If you find that things are getting tough and you are struggling to cope, the best thing you can do is tell someone, call a helpline, see your GP, speak to a friend or family member; and of course there are lots of great charities like Samaritans and CALM who can offer support. Too often we see young men bottling up their problems and hoping they'll just go away.

The NSPA has created a new tool to help people recognise when they need to talk or ask for help. This wallet sized card has tips to take care of your mental health as well as things to look out for in friends and family that might indicate that they need someone to talk to.

Stopping suicide is everybody's business. We can all do our bit, it's free and much easier than so many men imagine. Just ask your friends how they are, how they're feeling, if anything is on their mind or getting them down. Together we can prevent suicide and save lives.

If we can create an environment where talking about our feelings is as normal and healthy as talking about Brexit, or football or anything else for that matter, then we can help a lot of people see a way out of unhappiness.