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​Reaching out to those at risk of suicide


It is hard to imagine the extreme psychological pain that leads someone to decide that suicide is the only course of action.

Reaching out to someone who is struggling can make a difference and 'preventing suicide: reaching out and saving lives' is the theme of the 2015 World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday 10 September.

GPs in Lewisham are encouraging all residents to consider the role that offering support may play in combating suicide.

Dr Marc Rowland, a local GP and clinical lead for mental health at NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said each individual suicide was tragic and there was much that people could do if they were concerned that someone they knew may be considering suicide.

"If you are worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, check in with them, ask them whether they are okay and listen to what they say in a non-judgemental way," he said.

"Listening is the best way to help so try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, show them kindness and support, let them know you care and try to avoid offering solutions.

"This can all have a significant impact.  Isolation increases the risk of suicide, while having strong social connections is protective against it, so being there for someone who has become disconnected can be life-saving."

Dr Rowland said it was also very important to reach out to those who have been bereaved by suicide. 

"Suicide is devastating for families, friends and community members who are left behind, he said,

"Those bereaved by suicide may experience a whole range of emotions, including grief, anger, guilt, disbelief and self-blame, but they may not feel that they can share these overwhelming feelings with anyone."

Sometimes there may be obvious signs that someone is at risk of attempting suicide. However, this is often not the case. 

A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • threaten to hurt or kill themselves

  • talk or write about death, dying or suicide

  • actively look for ways to kill themselves, such as stockpiling tablets.

If you are feeling suicidal, there are people you can talk to who want to help:

  • speak to a friend, family member or someone you trust as they may be able to help you calm down and find some breathing space

  • call the Samaritans 24-hour support service on 08457 90 90 90

  • go to, or call, your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department and tell the staff how you are feeling

  • contact NHS 111

  • make an urgent appointment to see your GP.

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation. More information about WSPD can be found at www.iasp.info/wspd/

More information on how you can support someone who may be considering suicide, including other warning signs, can be found on the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk

Notes to editors

In 2013, 6,233 suicides of people aged 15 and over were registered in the UK, 252 more than in 2012 (figures from the Office for National Statistics).