"Social media are often in the news for the wrong reasons, but in the last two years I have been struck by something positive - the emotional support they offer to people who cannot easily find it elsewhere", explains the Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group, Professor Louis Appleby.
There is a community of individuals out there who, despite - or perhaps because of - difficulties in their own lives, are willing to provide sympathy or encouragement, or sometimes just acknowledge what a person is facing, even though they may not know each other outside a 140-character twitter exchange.
The theme of this year's World Suicide Prevention Day is connectedness: emphasising the value of support between people, support for families bereaved by suicide and support from services.
This focus aims to combat the isolation of an older person, living alone and feeling empty after the loss of a wife or husband - older people are particularly at risk after physical illness or the death of a spouse. It is also a reminder of the men who are reluctant to ask for help, fearing that depression will be seen as a weakness. In England, middle-aged men are the group with the highest suicide risk.
The connectedness theme also highlights the need for access to services: no-one should have to wait for access in a mental health crisis, any more than in a physical health crisis. Even when the services are there, some people at risk mistrust them, having felt let down in the past. This is particularly true of the 200,000 people per year who self-harm in this country who, with each episode, acquire an unfair and unsafe reputation with staff for being "attention-seeking". These are often the people who can find, as well as give, support on social media.
In recognising suicide prevention as a global problem, the World Health Organisation is promoting connections and mutual learning between countries. There are 800,000 suicides every year worldwide: suicide is a global problem. In England there are almost 4,500 suicides annually but we have one of the lowest suicide rates in Europe: 75 percent of suicides occur in low and middle income countries. Much of the evidence on risk and prevention has come from the UK: now we should try to ensure the benefits are universal.
Read the WHO report: Preventing Suicide: a global imperative
Follow Professor Appleby on twitter: @ProfLAppleby
Comment by Anastasia Romanos posted on
This is for Peter,
Peter, everywhere you went, every word you spoke, every big or little selfless act you did for others. Your presence was enough to see the sun rays dancing whilst you lit up the room and sad faces smile with delight. Peter you will always be my dearest friend.
You hid the darkness well although sometimes I use to capture for that second a sadness in your eyes but you always shrugged it off so well. They gave you tablets but it was like handing you a lancet. You were gone, why didn’t some psych just stop an realise ….’Talking therapy and CBT’ were the right KEY.
Peter David Hinds
A talented ARTIST who was just starting out
Best Son, Best Brother, Best Friend
In our hearts always.
Comment by termite posted on
We need to know someone makes us feel we matter, when it matters most!
Psychiatry is about text book quotes, from filling but no quality time to spend with patients.
Psychiatrists just hand out another script to keep the conveyor belt of 'care' moving, nobody really looks to the root of our problems.
When you are so alone and it seems nobody cares, suicide feels like a big warm blanket wrapped around us.
Everyone says they understand, but they don't really, otherwise suicide would not be in our thoughts.
I don't look for help any more, just the big warm blanket!
Comment by Michael Osborne posted on
I believe that communicating from the heart to others is the best way to prevent suicides. Make friends with others, say hello to all you meet in the street or anywhere. A smile and a recognition may save someone's life. We all need to feel wanted and valuable. We all want friends especially close ones. Spread yourself wide and communicate with care; love and compassion to as many as possible. Michael.