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Every year there are 4,500 suicides in England, and around 13 people end their life every day. Men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, and it is the leading cause of death in men under 50. It also affects many young people.

Gloucestershire’s health community is backing World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September by working together to reduce the number of suicides and provide better support for those bereaved or affected by suicide.

The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day 2019 is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.”

Dr Lawrence Fielder, GP and Clinical Lead for Mental Health at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Suicidal behaviour is often the end point of complex factors and distressing events, but it is not inevitable.

There are many ways in which we can help prevent suicides, and as a health community, we are working together to ensure that vulnerable people are supported and kept safe from preventable harm and that we intervene quickly when someone is in distress or in crisis.

GPs can help in a number of ways, through medication or signposting to appropriate support in the community or from other specialist services.

Anyone who is having suicidal thoughts should contact their GP straight away, or call NHS111 after surgery hours.”

Cllr Tim Harman, cabinet member for Public Health at Gloucestershire County Council said:

“Suicide is a complex and sensitive issue, but as something which has such a devastating effect upon families and a far reaching impact across our communities, we should discuss it openly more.

By talking about it, we will raise awareness of where people who are struggling can go for help, the signs to watch out for if you think someone is struggling, and the steps people can take to help themselves and others.”

John Trevains, Director of Nursing at 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Helping and supporting people who are struggling or are at risk of suicide isn’t limited to those who work in professional services.

We can all play a role by working together to prevent suicide.

If you are concerned about someone, start a conversation with them. Ask them how they are and really listen. Be prepared to ask them again, as people will often automatically reply that they are fine.

If your friend, loved one or colleague is distressed, it’s okay to encourage them to reach out for support, either from their GP, or from other appropriate organisations.

It’s also important that we support those who have been bereaved by suicide, as they can be at greater risk of taking their own lives.”

One of the ways that healthcare organisations have been working together to prevent suicide is through the introduction of a Letter of Hope, which is given to anyone arriving at Gloucestershire’s hospitals who has attempted suicide or is expressing suicide feelings.

The letter has been written by people who have also made attempts to take their own life, or who have supported family members who have made such an attempt. From their unique, personal perspective, they are offering words of encouragement and sources of support.

World Suicide Prevention Day in Gloucestershire

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, the Gloucestershire Suicide Prevention Partnership is organising an event at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital on 10 September, between 11am – 2pm, where charities supporting those affected by suicide talk about their work and will be able to provide information and guidance. Anyone is welcome to attend and you can stay for the whole event, or just part. Some charities will be attending Cheltenham General Hospital. Find more information on the event here.

Where to find support:

  • Further information about World Suicide Prevention Day 2019 can be found at: www.iasp.info/wspd2019/.
  • Help and support for anyone with suicidal thoughts is available at any time on the NHS. Visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/.
  • If you are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide, you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123.
  • If you are a child or a young person you may want to speak to Childline. Call free on 0800 11 11.
  • The Stay Alive app is packed full of useful information to help you stay safe in crisis. You can use it if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide. The app can be accessed through the Apple Store, Google Play and downloaded as a pdf.
  • Find the Government Strategy on Preventing Suicide here.
  • Where people are experiencing severe emotional distress, 2gether’s Mental Health Acute Response Service (MHARS) can be contacted on 0800 169 0398.