A Brighton charity is stepping up its efforts as organisations and individuals join forces on World Suicide Prevention Day today (Saturday 10 September).
Grassroots Suicide Prevention, which operates nationally from Brighton, is among more than 70 suicide prevention and mental health groups across Britain, highlighting how suicides can be prevented.
One in five people in the UK have suicidal thoughts, the charity said, and one in twenty will attempt suicide. It’s estimated that, in England and Wales, at least 140,000 people go to hospital each year having tried to kill themselves.
The charity said that suicide is preventable and not inevitable. And that’s why, on World Suicide Prevention Day, Grassroots Suicide Prevention is launching an online suicide prevention hub, including a section on understanding suicide. This includes potential warning signs to look for, suicide myths that create stigma and shame and how to talk to someone you are concerned about.
Its pioneering app, called Stay Alive, is recommended by the NHS for those experiencing suicidal thoughts or those concerned about loved ones who are thinking about suicide. It has been downloaded over half a million times. It is estimated to have helped 76 per cent of at-risk users stay safe from suicide while 80 per cent of people using the app have supported someone else and said that it helped them keep the person safe from suicide.
Ian Stringer, born in Blackpool and now a BBC Leicester sports commentator, used the app when he was struggling. He said: “The Stay Alive app is a life saver. This is not just a turn of phrase but it actually saves lives of those who have thoughts of suicide.”
Around 135 people are affected to some degree by every person lost to suicide. It can devastate communities and have a lasting impact on loved ones left behind. Grassroots has a free, online interactive film called Real Talk that helps people have those life-saving conversations.
Dr Lisa Edwards, a bereaved parent and Grassroots Suicide Prevention trustee, said: “Suicide is the biggest killer of young people, both male and female, aged under 35 years in the UK. Not only does the person who dies by suicide lose their life, those who love them, family and friends, are devastated too.
“When my 16-year-old son, David, died by suicide, my life changed forever, I entered an abyss of grief. My broken heart will never heal. Yet, suicide can be prevented but we still do not talk about it openly.
“Talking about suicide not only reduces the stigma but also allows individuals to seek help, rethink their options. We know that having the right conversation with someone if they’re suicidal can protect them.”
Grassroots Suicide Prevention has trained over 50,000 people on mental health and suicide prevention. It trains over 300 organisations a year on mental health and suicide, including the British Army, Shelter, Waitrose and the NHS. This year, as part of World Suicide Prevention Day, it is offering free one-hour online training to media professionals and journalists on how they can help prevent suicide.
Grassroots Suicide Prevention chief executive Rachael Swann said: “What we know is that, in most cases, suicide is not inevitable and can be prevented with timely intervention, and anyone can learn these life-saving skills. At Grassroots Suicide Prevention we are committed to supporting people and organisations to understand that their actions, however big or small, could bring hope to someone who is struggling and help save their life.”
Grassroots Suicide Prevention suicide prevention hub (in progress for World Suicide Prevention Day) includes suicide stats, real stories, myths and potential warning signs. And you can watch free interactive training. The Stay Alive mobile phone app has a record of saving lives.
Grassroots Suicide Prevention is a national charity that offers resources, expertise and training to organisations, communities and individuals around suicide prevention.
Roz Scott is a freelance journalist based in Hove. To subscribe to her blog, go to www.rozscott.com.