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SUICIDE

Suicide is when somebody deliberately ends their own life. 

'Suicidal thoughts' occur when somebody is thinking about, or planning suicide. This could be a momentary thought, though to a detailed plan on how they may take their own life. Just because someone experiences suicidal emotions it doesn't necessarily mean they will actually go through with it. Suicidal thoughts are common and many people think about suicide at some point in their life. 

People who take their own life have often told someone that they do not feel their life is worth living anymore. Some people may have actually said they want to die. Because of this, it is extremely important to take anybody who talks about feeling suicidal seriously and try to make sure they remain safe. 

  • In 2021, 5,203 suicides were registered here in the UK

  • In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives compared to women. 

  • The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 45-49

    • In the UK, someone takes their own life every 90 minutes. 

The possible risk factors that may encourage people to commit suicide are as follows:

  • Previous suicide attempts

  • Mental health problems

  • Physical, sexual or emotional abuse

  • Drug and alcohol misuse/addiction

  • Imprisonment

  • Bullying and discrimination

  • Bereavement or the end of a relationship

  • Losing a loved one to suicide

  • Adjusting to a significant change

  • Being diagnosed with a serious mental condition

  • Social isolation and loneliness

  • Financial problems or homelessness

The potential warning signs that someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts may include: 

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves

  • Talking or writing about dying, death or suicide

  • Making financial preparations such as writing or updating a will

  • Recent trauma or life crisis such as the death of a loved one

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose

  • Talking about being a burden or nuisance to others

  • Anxious, agitated or acting reckless

  • Increasing the use of alcohol and drugs

  • Withdrawing from activities and feeling isolated

Treatments available for Suicidal behaviours or emotions

It is estimated  that 90% of people who attempt or die by suicide have one or more mental health condition. However, in some cases, the condition may not have been formally diagnosed before the suicidal crisis. 

If someone is treated in hospital following a suicidal crisis, they will usually be assessed to find out the best options to keep them safe. This should include a referral to a specialist to organise a professional treatment plan. 

When someone visits their GP because of suicidal emotions, the outcome will be similar to that of the hospital. The GP will assess their condition and work out the most appropriate treatment plan. This could also include being referred to a specialist mental health team.

The treatment plan will be based around the mental health condition the person may be diagnosed with (such as depression or schizophrenia). The treatment plan may consist of talking therapy, interpersonal therapy, group therapy, medication or a combination of these treatment methods and the person may also be referred to a specialist crisis team. 

Crisis teams are part of the NHS mental health services and they provide urgent help and support for people going through a mental health crisis. A person who is referred to a crisis team should be given a contact number to call when they need support. 'Crisis team' is a general term and the service may be called something different depending on where you live. 

 

  • Mental Health Crisis Plan is an informal care plan outline key information to be considered during a mental health crisis, the person is providing important steps to follow when they are in a state of crisis and the plan can be used by the individual for themselves or by a friend or family member. 

  • The crisis plan may include information on who to contacted (trusted friend etc.), professional contacts (crisis team  etc.), coping strategies, their reasons to remain safe and well, things to avoid when in crisis and condition history and medication details.

Aiding another with Suicidal emotions

  • Provide the person the opportunity to talk. If the person does not initiate a conversation with you, you should say something to them. 

  • Once the conversation is open, tell the person why you're worried about them and ask about suicide..."Have you had thoughts about ending your own life?"

  • Listen to what they say carefully, remain calm and provide reassurance. 

  • Phrases such as "my life isn't worth living anymore" or "I just want to disappear" must be taken seriously.

  • If you believe the person is in serious danger and they have tried, or are going to try to take their own life, stay with them and call the emergency services. 

  • If they are not actively suicidal, encourage them to seek professional support (they can book an emergency appointment with their GP in the first instance). 

  • If they are already in touch with specialist mental health services, such as being assigned to a crisis team, they may have a contact number to call when they need support. 

Other contact options can include the following:

  • Trusted friend or family member

  • NHS 111

  • Samaritans helpline - 116 123

It can be very emotional helping someone who is feeling suicidal. However, you must remember that you are helping someone thorugh a very tough time and your conversation could help save a life.