International Association for Suicide Prevention

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) is having a busy September. 10 September is World Suicide Provention Day. Meanwhile, they are hosting the 32nd IASP World Congress in Piran, (Slovenia) from 19 to 23 September 2023. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates more than 700,000 people die due to suicide each year. It is thought that around 77% of all global suicides occur in low and middle-income countries. And for every suicide there are many more who attempt suicide or have serious suicidal ideation. Suicidal behaviour profoundly impacts the families and communities that remain. As Sinead O’Connor (Irish singer, songwriter, and activist) put it, “Suicide doesn’t solve your problems. It only makes them infinitely, un-countably worse”.

So what do you do if you know someone who is suicidal or you think may be? Well, perhaps most importantly, when a person tells you that they are suicidal you should take them seriously.

If you are worried about someone, you can ask them if they feel comfortable talking about it. Research shows that talking to someone openly about suicide does not increase their risk of suicide. So, if you are comfortable speaking with them about it, try to be clear and direct, for example, “I care about you, do you feel suicidal?”

People who have been suicidal, highlight how helpful it is to have someone to talk to who listens. It is not about coming up with solutions, just listen to them, supporting them and explore options for seeking help and safety.

Encouraging them to seek professional help and support it also critical. You can help them by being there for them when they call a helpline or make an appointment with a health professional. 

And now a little treat for you.  Lewis Capaldi (Scottish singer-songwriter and musician) revealed in a social media post that his song, Before You Go, deals with the emotional aftermath of the suicide of his aunt. He said it was “by far the most personal tune” he had ever written. It’s a powerful piece of music and is one of my favourites.

So, if you know someone who might be anxious, depressed or suicidal help them to get the professional assistance they need. And be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.