Tomorrow, Saturday 10 September, is World Suicide Prevention Day. The international theme for 2016 is: connect, communicate and care.
“Tomorrow is a day to raise awareness of suicide prevention,” Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson says. “Suicide is a complex issue, but it is preventable, and it’s important for each of us to know what we can do to help those at risk.”
Connection can be key to preventing suicide. Individuals who feel suicidal often feel that they lack meaningful connections to others.
“Loneliness is a serious public health issue with a simple solution,” Mr Robinson says. “You don’t need to be a mental health professional to ask someone how they’re doing. Anyone can do it – and everyone should. A simple 'Kia ora' or 'G’day' can be the start of a conversation that can save a life.”
Most people who die by suicide don’t want to die – they just want their pain to end or can’t see another way out of their situation. Support from people who care about them can help them to find a way through.
“Sometimes, people just need to feel seen, to know that someone cares. This can be the push they need to reach out for professional help or to start doing things to help them feel better such as practising the Five Ways to Wellbeing.”
If you’re worried about someone, ask them directly
“That’s one of the most important messages we can give to New Zealanders about suicide prevention,” Mr Robinson says. “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I’m worried about you. You don’t seem like yourself. Are you thinking of suicide?’ Listen calmly to their answer without judgement and give them as much time as they need to talk through what they are experiencing.”
Remind them that suicidal thoughts are not uncommon and offer your help and support. While you can’t fix someone else’s problems, you can acknowledge their thoughts and experiences, offer advice if you’ve been through similar struggles, and work with them to identify the supports they need.
World Suicide Prevention Day is also a day to remember those we have lost to suicide. It can be a difficult day for those who have been bereaved by suicide.
“Suicide bereavement is a unique kind of grief, and it can be especially difficult. Often, those who have lost someone to suicide will withdraw and become very isolated – stay in touch with them, just be with them, accept their emotions and don’t avoid talking about the person they have lost. Most of all, be patient. Working through grief takes time.”
Further information about suicide prevention can be found at www.mentalhealth.org.nz/suicideprevention
For more information contact:
Communications & PR Specialist
09 623 4810 ext 811
021 740 454