“If you can read between the lines you can save lives”, that’s the national campaign message from ChooseLife, the national team for suicide prevention in Scotland.
The campaign of ‘Read Between the Lines’ is running throughout the week, from 4 to 10 September, and helps to raise awareness of suicide and encourages people to talk about it openly. The week coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September.
It is recognised that due to greater contact, family, friends and colleagues of people at risk of suicide may be best placed to recognise signs of distress in someone and be able to help. The Read Between the Lines campaign highlights the ambiguous nature of suicide, it encourages people to act on any warning signs they see, even if a person also displays seemingly normal behaviours and it involves raising awareness of how and where to get help.
Speaking on behalf of the Angus Suicide Prevention Collaborative, Mr Bill Troup, Chair, said: “Sometimes there are occasions when nobody could have predicted a death by suicide. However, in many cases, help and support can make a difference and avert a tragic outcome. Compassionate listening to people in these circumstances can save lives.
“While some groups are at increased risk of suicide there isn’t a ‘type’ for suicide and it can affect all ages, ethnicities, genders and cultures. It is important to understand that while there is a link between suicide and mental illness, not everyone who has mental health difficulties will have thoughts of suicide and not everyone with thoughts of suicide will have mental health difficulties. Stigma and fear are core reasons for many people not talking and seeking support. The most important way to help someone experiencing thoughts of suicide is to encourage them to talk and for us to listen and to take it seriously.”
Each year national statistics are reported but as annual numbers tend to fluctuate from year to year, five-year rolling average rates are used for monitoring progress. Based on these five-year rolling averages, the suicide rate decreased between 2002 - 2006 and between 2012 - 2016, there has been a downward trend in suicide rates. The 2016 reported figures show that there were 728 suicides registered compared to 672 in 2015. In the Tayside area deaths by suicide increased from 54 to 74. The rate for males was more than two and half times that for females which is similar to previous years.
Every suicide is a tragedy. When someone completes suicide many people can be affected both short and long term. Research demonstrates that ‘people recently bereaved’ have an elevated risk of suicide and this underpins a key aspect of the work of the agencies who work together as the Collaborative regarding how to best meet local need to support families and communities after a suicide.
A key partnership activity is to promote the Tayside suicide website and this can also be downloaded to mobile phones as an app via your app store. This information includes how to help someone, who to contact and there is a place to create your own safety plan.
If you are interested in attending basic awareness training for suicide prevention there are regular free courses run in each locality in Tayside and they are available for anyone who works or lives in the locality area. For further information please contact your area Coordinator.
There are a number of events taking place across Tayside during the week and Angus is involved in the following:
- Mental Health and Learning Disability Consultation are hosting three events across Angus and there will be various information stalls available for support services in Angus. Susan Duncan, Suicide Prevention Development Officer for Angus will be available at each event. Monday 4 September, Main Hall in St Andrews Church, Hamilton Green, Arbroath, 4-6pm; Tuesday 5 September, Montrose YMCA, 98 Murray Street, Montrose, 2-5pm and Thursday 7 September, Kirriemuir Town Hall, 28 -30 Reform Street, Kirriemuir, 11–2.30pm. These events are open to members of the public and professionals.
- Police Scotland Safer Communities will have an event bus in Asda car park in Forfar on Friday 8 September, 10-2pm. Information regarding local supports for suicide prevention will be available and Susan Duncan, Suicide Prevention Development Officer for Angus will be present.
- To highlight the link between exercise and positive mental health, a variety of exercise events have been arranged for the week beginning 11 September. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Saturday 16 September representatives from the Angus Suicide Prevention Collaborative will be present from 2pm prior to the Forfar Athletic Football match to promote the Tayside suicide prevention and awareness website and phone app.