Take a minute, change a life
It's almost 2017's World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September) A day aiming to provide international awareness for action in preventing suicides.
Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide. For every person who dies by suicide, 25 more attempt to end their own lives.
Behind these heartbreaking figures is a story belonging to each and every individual who has at some point questioned their existence in the world.
Suicide is often a decision made out of a great degree of desperation, isolation and sadness. When the overwhelming black cloud does not go away and complete emotional turmoil becomes all-consuming, taking one’s own life can feel like the only option.
The theme of this year's World Suicide Prevention Day is "Take a minute, change a life." It encourages us all to look out for those who may be struggling, check in with them, and encourage them to tell their story in their own way. Offering a gentle word of support and listening can make a world of difference :-)
I've been fortunate enough to attend some amazing suicide prevention courses with Samaritans and Grassroots Suicide Prevention which I can say hand on heart has taught me some invaluable life lessons.
Both courses discussed how important it is to encourage individuals in emotional distress to be “emotionally-sick”. By this term, we mean allowing someone to talk and talk and TALK as much as they can about whatever is making them feel distressed. This supports the individual in relieving some of the pressure that is being felt.
What is emotional health?
Emotional health is about how balanced and confident we feel. If something happens and we feel low, getting back on track can be so difficult.
People don’t automatically have either good or poor emotional health. If we imagine emotional health as the scale below. We are all on the scale somewhere, and we go up and down on it – that’s part of life and an important part of being emotionally balanced.
When an individual is in emotional distress, asking them open questions is a really supportive way of allowing them to share what they are experiencing. These are questions that do not necessarily require yes or no answers.
How? What? Where? When? and Why? questions provide an emphasis on an individual and the emotions shared can be very powerful, especially when such conversations can be very difficult to enter into.
How can we show people we’re listening?
- Summarising: By offering an individual a summary of what they have said really demonstrates that you have listened which can offer great comfort.
- Reflecting: repeating key words and phrases back to an individual can encourage them to continue talking.
- Short words of encouragement: such as “yes I see” and “please go on” can be enough to show assurance that you are listening.
- Reacting: often an individual in emotional distress can need us to recognise how they feel – phrases such as “that much have been difficult” and “I appreciate how difficult that is” can offer a real supportive ear to someone.
- Clarifying: Statements such as “tell me more” or “that sounds like a difficult area” can help an individual pin-point a feeling for themselves.
Suicide: The leading cause of death for men aged 20 – 45 years old
Male suicide accounted for 75% of all suicides in 2015 and represents the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20-45 in the UK :-(
All of us hit a wall at some point.
All of us have crises and can be stressed.
Any of us can get to the point where we don’t feel there is a way out.
By recognising that and understanding that this is a place that people can reach when they’re down is very important 🙂
x Rebecca x