World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) – Sunday 10th September 2023 – was first introduced by the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP). The theme for 2023 is Creating Hope through Action. In Ireland, this is an important theme that is reflected in our national strategy to reduce suicide, Connecting for Life.
It is a time when we can spread a message of hope to others. Even though suicide is a very complex issue, we can always look out for others who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts, and provide support. This helps to create a more caring society where those who need to feel more comfortable in seeking help.
The following are some examples of actions that can help to create hope this World Suicide Prevention Day.
Reach in to someone you know who might be having difficulties. Find a comfortable space and time to sit and be present with them. Use open questions and tell them you care about them. You don’t need to have all the answers, so try not to feel pressured. If they share things with you, listen - stay calm, be patient and kind.
Remember that bringing up the topic of suicide with someone will not make suicide more likely. It can be really helpful for a person just to have a safe space to open up, know that they are heard and that they are not alone at a difficult time.
Reach Out. If you are feeling particularly low, sad or hopeless, always remember that sharing things with someone else will help. Reaching out to talk with someone - someone close or even a support organisation - might initially feel frightening.
Even if you can’t find the right words, when you take that first step and start to share and talk about what’s going on for you, things can become clearer. The right words will come, and you will start to feel more hopeful.
Be the Light
Be the Light. Connect with a support or community organisation. Volunteer, help spread their messages and become involved in activities that promote positive mental health and wellbeing or suicide prevention in your community.
Always think about the person and what they might be going through when talking about suicide. Remain compassionate and be respectful of the lives that have been lost, or others who have been bereaved. Remember that people can — and do — get through times of crisis, and that a positive message of recovery, can be protective and hopeful for others to hear.
The topic of suicide should always be approached with care and compassion. It is important to use sensitive and non-stigmatising language when engaging in a conversation, talking or writing about suicide. Using language and words that are helpful and respectful, will encourage open and safe conversations about suicide, and its prevention. They can help to create environments that are free of stigma, judgment or prejudice.
Always avoid using the term ‘commit suicide’ – this can imply a sin, criminal offence or act, and therefore can be stigmatising – of the person who has died, or of people who have been bereaved. In general, use neutral and simple terms such as ‘died by suicide’, ‘die by suicide’ or ‘death by suicide’.
Increase your awareness
Increase your awareness. If someone tells you that they are having thoughts of suicide, try to stay calm and don’t be afraid. Be reassured there are always helpful things you can do and there are training programmes that can help prepare you. Free suicide prevention and awareness programmes are available from the HSE.
These can build your confidence, help you recognise people who might be at risk of suicide, ask them about suicide, and connect them with helpful supports and services. For example:
- LivingWorks Start, a 90 minute online programme
- safeTALK, a half day face-to-face programme
- Visit www.nosp.ie/training for more information
Support is always available
Get to know what mental health supports and services are available, and tell more people about them. Speak with a GP about what might be available locally. Tell your family, your friends, your colleagues – you never know when someone might need them. Many are open 24/7 and you can make contact in different ways, for example:
You can also call the HSE YourMentalHealth Information Line, anytime day or night, for information on mental health, and what other services and supports are available near you – freephone 1800 111 888 or visit www.yourmentalhealth.ie.