Losing my husband to suicide has had a profound impact on my life, frequently leading me to question the term “suicide prevention.” As someone who advocates for suicide prevention, I have experienced negative emotions and guilt associated with the word “prevention.” Through sharing my personal journey, I aim to highlight the importance of education, collaboration, normalising discussions around suicide, and seeking help in suicide prevention efforts.
The guilt experienced by those who have lost a loved one to suicide is very real and haunting. By acknowledging and understanding this guilt, we can begin to heal and move forward. It is important to recognise that prevention is not always within our control, however research does suggest that most suicides are preventable and various organisations are now working towards a zero suicide rate.
“By removing the stigma from these discussions, we can create a safe space where individuals feel comfortable seeking help for their mental health concerns”
Remember suicide prevention requires a collective effort from individuals, communities’ organisations and governments. Education plays a crucial role in suicide prevention and so does addressing Social Determinants. We need to normalise conversations around suicide ideation, just as we do with other health issues like cancer. By removing the stigma from these discussions, we can create a safe space where individuals feel comfortable seeking help for their mental health concerns.
Locally, Blackpool has high suicide rates. It has the second-highest rate of suicide among upper tier local authorities in England. This highlights the urgent need for suicide prevention initiatives and training in our community. As the lead on the Solace Project at Empowerment, I strongly encourage community engagement in suicide prevention training. The Orange Button Community Scheme aims to identify individuals who have received suicide prevention training and are confident in discussing suicide. This scheme offers training sessions to enhance understanding of suicide, identify signs of risk, ask directly about suicide, and support individuals in accessing appropriate help.
Sadly, suicide is often not a concern until it directly affects us. We need to change this mind-set and understand that suicide is everyone’s concern. It is crucial to overcome the notion that suicide only happens to others, as I never believed I would be affected until I found myself in this heart-wrenching club of survivors. The impact of suicide on our society is staggering. It is the leading cause of death for both males and females under the age of 35 and males under 50. When faced with these statistics, it becomes apparent that losing someone to suicide is tragically common. Every 90 minutes, a life is lost to suicide in the UK alone.
In light of these statistics, prevention is of utmost importance. Education and normalising discussions around suicide are key. By removing the stigma, judgment, and disbelief surrounding suicide, we can create an environment where individuals feel comfortable seeking help. Locally, Solace is organising a family event on September 9th in honour of World Suicide Prevention Day. This event aims to showcase the best of our community, honour lives lost, and bring hope through the power of human connection. We will highlight the importance of collaboration within suicide awareness and the need for open conversations.
“By shifting the narrative, we can offer hope, understanding, and resources to those in distress.”
We need to expand our understanding of prevention beyond the traditional approach. Instead of solely focusing on preventing suicide, we must support and empower those who experience suicidal thoughts. By shifting the narrative, we can offer hope, understanding, and resources to those in distress. Creating a supportive environment where individuals can openly express their struggles without fear of judgement is crucial. Empathy, active listening, and providing resources for those in need should be top priorities for everyone. By nurturing such an environment, we can encourage help-seeking behaviour and save lives.
Losing my husband to suicide has challenged me in unimaginable ways and pushed my own mental health to new levels. I believe that through education, normalising discussions, and creating a supportive environment, we can make a significant impact on suicide prevention efforts. Together, let us redefine prevention and create a world where seeking help for suicidal thoughts is as natural as seeking help for a sore throat.
Glen, described in his suicide letter that he had broken the egg and once smashed can never be fixed. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and grappling with this notion is incredibly difficult. However, amidst the darkness, there is always a glimmer of hope, reminding us that suicide is not the only path and the sun will rise again. By fostering a supportive environment, advocating for mental health, increasing awareness of available resources, and collaborating, we can work towards a future where seeking help for suicidal thoughts is as natural as seeking help for any other health concern. Together, let us challenge the status quo, break down barriers, and save lives.
About the Author:
Sam Southern is a Lead Suicide Prevention and Bereavement Coordinator at Empowerment Charity in Blackpool. Prior to this, she specialised in Gastroenterology as a healthcare professional in the NHS. In addition to her work, Samantha runs a thriving local events business. As a dedicated mother of five, Sam has faced adversity, including the tragic loss of her husband to suicide in June 2020. This experience has driven her passion and commitment to raise awareness and offer hope to those who may be struggling. Samantha is not only a dedicated professional, but she also enjoys spending time with her family, blogging, and promoting mindfulness. She enjoys walking and believes in the benefits of staying active. Samantha’s personal interests complement her professional work and help her to maintain a healthy work-life balance.