Inspired by a pioneering programme in Detroit a new pilot project is being launched to help people talk openly to people who may be at risk of suicide.
Figures show that 6,000 people kill themselves in the UK and Ireland each year. Now the NHS is funding a number of pilot projects to help reduce suicides after seeing a programme in Detroit reduce suicides by 82%, reports the Guardian.
The UK scheme wishes to reduce the stigma attached to suicide and encourage people to talk more openly about it.
Aly Anderson, the director of development at Mind in Cambridgeshire, says: “Seventy-five per cent of people who kill themselves are not in touch with mental health services, so the people in the best position to intervene are often their family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. There is an idea that if someone is going to end their life, there is no way to stop it – but most suicides are preventable.”
While professional support is essential for someone with a mental health problem, anyone can help during an acute episode, says Anderson. “It’s not a science. You just have to listen and keep them safe. We all have the capacity to save a life in that way.”
The Samaritans reiterate that the most important thing is to talk. Joe Ferns, the Samaritans’ executive director of policy, research and development, says: “It can feel awkward to start a conversation. People are afraid they will say the wrong thing or make things worse, but silence is the greater danger. There isn’t really a right or wrong thing to say in these situations. The most important thing to remember is that the person needs to feel that you will listen to them, they are safe with you and you care about them.”
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