Last week was suicide prevention week. Scotland's suicide rates are higher than anywhere else in the UK. This means two people a day in Scotland die from suicide. Choose Life is Scotland's suicide prevention strategy aimed at reversing this trend.
The new awareness campaign is all about "Reading between the lines" and encourages people to look out for signs that a friend or family member is struggling and talk to them about how they feel as a first step. The bottom line is:
If you are worried that someone is suicidal, ask them. It could save their life.
Most people thinking about suicide will try to let someone know. The key to helping is watching out for the warning signs and knowing what to do to help. There are several signs to watch out for and remember everyone is different so if you are concerned, the best thing you can do is be there to listen.
Someone you know may be at risk of suicide if they:
- appear stressed, anxious or depressed
- don’t seem to be coping with any problems they may have
- are distracted, moody or withdrawn
- show marked changes in their eating, sleeping or drinking habits.
You can help:
- take all signs of distress seriously, even if the person seems to be living a normal life
- ask the person about what’s troubling them
- listen carefully to what they have to say
- let them know you care
- encourage the person to make an appointment with their GP or to call a helpline such as Breathing Space or Samaritans.
I know of two people who have died from suicide. I don't know whether this campaign would have changed the outcome for them, but having seen the devastation caused to family and friends left behind I feel that if another life could be saved by spotting a person in distress and asking the right questions that has to be a good thing, doesn't it?