A new suicide prevention campaign has been launched, encouraging people to reach out and strike up a conversation – whether they’re worried about someone – or whether they’re in crisis themselves.
REACHOUT Liverpool – launched by the Liverpool City Council Public Health Team in partnership with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust, reminds us that anyone can have thoughts of suicide and talking about suicide can save or change a life.
It aims to raise awareness that suicide is preventable and to remove the stigma that surrounds it – something that keeps people in crisis from reaching out, and those around them from even mentioning the word.
It comes after the city saw a significant increase in the number of suicide deaths in 2020 – which could have been associated with the impact of Covid-19 and anxiety resulting from lockdowns, social isolation and professional and financial insecurity.
The REACHOUT campaign consists of three parts:
See the problem – raise awareness of what to look for, including signs, behaviors and emotions that a person in crisis might display.
Say the words and start a conversation – we’ve partnered with the Zero Suicide Alliance to offer a 20 minute training video that provides people with the skills and confidence to contact someone in crisis.
Signpost to support – providing information on local services that offer 24/7 crisis assistance.
The REACHOUT campaign also reaches out to people in crisis, encourages them to talk to their friends, family or professionals and lets them know that change is possible and that they can feel better.
Lindsay, a 34-year-old council worker from Liverpool who has been in crisis herself, supports the REACHOUT campaign.
Lindsay has attempted suicide multiple times and is passionate about the need to talk about her feelings of suicide and making sure people get the help they need.
Lindsay was only 14 when she began to suffer from depression and anxiety and began to self-harm. She struggled until her early twenties when she sought help and received advice. Five years later, she hit rock bottom when she saw a return of her difficulties and severe symptoms. Lindsay’s mental health deteriorated, she was eventually admitted to a mental hospital where she was diagnosed with depressive disorder.
“This is such an important and very personal campaign for me because I understand how vital it is to bring this issue to the fore. I feel like a lot of people are still afraid to talk about it, but we have to feel okay about talking about it.
It also discusses some of the myths surrounding suicide. For example, some people think that bringing up the subject of suicide with someone is going to put the idea in their head – but on the contrary, it gives them permission to speak.
I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved – it could save a life.
In 2020, England saw a 6% increase in suicide deaths compared to the previous year. In Liverpool, those numbers are even more disturbing, as the city has seen a 25% increase over the same period.
Liverpool men are still more likely to kill themselves than women, with four in five deaths affecting them; However, in 2020 there was also a small but significant increase for women.
Over the past decade, the highest number of suicide deaths occurred in March – accounting for 11% of all cases, with twice as many deaths occurring in our most disadvantaged communities.
Councilor Frazer Lake, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, noted:
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to suicide, but if people know the signs to look out for when someone is in a crisis and have the confidence to strike up a conversation, they could save a life.
Every suicide is a tragedy for the person involved, their family, friends and the community at large. The effect of every suicide on our society should not be underestimated, so it is important to work for a world without suicide.
Professor Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Liverpool, said:
“Suicide is a serious public health problem; and with the right support, it’s preventable. When people have the skills and the confidence to bring it up, it can make all the difference.
Suicide prevention has not been sufficiently addressed due to a lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health issue and the taboo in many societies to discuss it openly. Raising awareness in the community and breaking the taboo are important to making progress in suicide prevention – but that’s only part of the story. Tackling the reasons people are in crisis and connecting them with the right kind of support is essential to prevention – from signaling for debt management to counseling on break-ups relationship or treatment for drug addiction or anxiety.
Dr Claire Iveson, consultant clinical psychologist and clinical and strategic manager of Zero Suicide said:
“While the link between suicide and serious mental health issues is well established, particularly depression and substance abuse, many people commit suicide out of total desperation, in times of crisis or prolonged psychological pain. . If someone then makes a suicide attempt, their risk of dying by suicide increases – so we want to do everything possible to prevent them from making a suicide attempt in the first place.
The average age of someone who died by suicide in 2020 was 44, but it ranged from 16 to 84. There is a desperate need to break down the social stigma surrounding suicide across generations so that people in crisis can access help. they need, as well as those who are worried, then feel confident that they have the skills to start these difficult but critical conversations.