There are some sobering statistics published by The Samaritans about the suicide rates in the UK:
- 6,188 suicides were registered in the UK and 451 in the Republic of Ireland.
- The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 40–44.
- Rates have increased in the UK by 3.8%
- Male rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK.
These figures are even more concerning when we remember that we don’t know the number of suicide attempts which are made which don’t end in a death and also if there is any uncertainty, an unexplained death is usually not recorded as a suicide. What this means is that there are concerning numbers of people who feel that life is so painful, or bleak or unbearable that they choose to end it.
At SurvivorsUK we know that people who have survived sexual abuse are more likely to consider suicide and, working with male survivors, we are aware that men are disproportionately at risk. So what can we do for Suicide Prevention week to address this?
- If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, talk to someone. You don’t have to manage these feelings on your own. A conversation with a trusted professional or friend can give you a different perspective and inject a ray of hope into a situations or feelings which might seem hopeless
- If you are concerned about a friend or loved one, talk to them, show them that you care. It may feel hard but that’s what friendship is about – being alongside someone when it’s tough
- If you are a professional working with someone who has suicidal thoughts, always take them seriously
I was cycling home a few weeks ago and I saw a young woman sitting astride the balustrade of a pedestrian bridge over a busy dual carriage way. I am a psychotherapist who has specialized in working with suicidal people but I remember thinking as I walked towards her that my training had not prepared me for this ‘in the real world’ experience. But what mattered in that moment was that one human being cared for another and wasn’t prepared to walk away. She told me to f*** off and mind my own business which was understandable but I wasn’t prepared to leave her. In that moment we created a connection and when the police arrived she allowed herself to be escorted off the bridge. It’s that profound and that simple.
Suicide is a profoundly isolating and isolated act and one of the crucial factors that can bring us back from that choice is a sense of connection with another human being.
Counsellor and Groupwork Coordinator