Working together to prevent suicide

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A number of events will be held next week to mark Suicide Prevention Week.

World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday, September 10, is an opportunity to acknowledge that suicide is preventable and that it’s everyone's business.

The continuing Choose Life ‘Read between the lines’ campaign asks everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. If you’re worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.

Signs of suicide can be difficult to spot which is why the campaign encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously, even if it seems a person is living a normal life. People can feel assured that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.

The emotional impact on families, friends and communities bereaved by suicide is devastating and can have long lasting negative effects on those left behind.

Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and the new Suicide Prevention Action Plan for Scotland, Every Life Matters, continues to support the National Outcome to enable people to live longer, healthier lives.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “Every life matters and no death by suicide should be regarded as either acceptable or inevitable. Over the past decade, Scotland has made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide but we want to go further. Our view is that suicide is preventable, and where anyone contemplating suicide or who has lost a loved one to suicide should get the support they need.

“If we are to achieve this, we need to make clear that suicide prevention is everyone’s business. We need to work together across sectors and organisations to identify and support people in distress, strengthen communities, and save lives.”

Iain Murray, ChooseLife Co-ordinator for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, said: “If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, you will normally notice. When changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – the most important aspect is to ask them about it.

“Talking openly about their feelings can help a person get clarity about what is troubling them. Starting this conversation helps them gain a perspective on their distress. You don’t need to have a solution to their problems – being there for them and listening, without judgement, shows that you care and their distress, and ultimately their happiness, is important to you.”

Iain added: “Ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought into their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to open up fully and acknowledge they need help and support. By taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life.”

Raising awareness of suicide prevention and giving the public information is vital. During 2018 Suicide Prevention Week, activities in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire include:

On Board – Conversation cafes: Volunteers will be travelling on some train services on Monday, September 10, to open up conversations about Mental Health and Wellbeing and sign posting to help and resources. This is a collaboration between ScotRail, Police Scotland, British Transport Police and volunteers from the ChooseLife Steering Group

An Act of Remembrance will be held on Sunday, September 16, for all those lost to suicide at 2pm at the Aberdeen City Town House. The ceremony will be led by the Lord Provost of Aberdeen and is hosted by the ChooseLife Steering Group. This is a public event and refreshments will be provided.

A Tree Planting Ceremony led by Aberdeenshire Provost, Cllr Bill Howatson, will be held on Saturday, September 22, to remember those lost to suicide at 1.30pm in the Voyage of Life, Community Garden, King Street, Inverbervie. This is a public event and refreshments will be provided.