Suicide Awareness Day: Who can help?
Older people in residential and nursing homes are two to three times more likely to experience depression than older people in the community. If you're a carer and you suspect someone in your care is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are a range of resources available to you so that you can find the support that they need.
For anyone feeling intensely distressed, despairing or suicidal, advise the person to contact their GP and ask for an emergency appointment. If the surgery is closed, consider calling one of the numbers, below.
According to Samaritans UK, there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2015.
If you're unsure as to whether someone is or is not experiencing suicidal thoughts, here is what to look out for...
- Talking about wanting to die
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
Act immediately to respond to the person by following these steps:
- Do something now. Take warning signs seriously. Reaching out could save a life. Seek urgent help if it is needed by calling 999 or take the person to your nearest emergency department.
- Ask if they are thinking of suicide. Talking about suicide will not put the idea into their head but will encourage them to talk about their feelings. Don’t agree to keep it a secret since the person’s safety is your main concern.
- Acknowledge your reaction. You might panic or want to ignore the situation. If you are struggling, get the help of a trusted friend.
- Be there for them. Spend time with the person, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, identify who they can call on for support and encourage the person to agree to get further support.
- Check out their safety. Ask how much thought the person has put into taking their own life. If you are really worried don’t leave the person alone. Remove any means of suicide available including weapons, medications, alcohol and other drugs, even access to car.
- Decide what to do. Discuss together what action to take. You may need the help of others (partners, parents, close friends or someone else) to persuade the person to get professional help. Only by sharing this information can you make sure the person gets the help and support they need.
- Take action. Encourage the person to get help from a local health professional such as a GP, counsellor or telephone helpline service.
- Ask for a promise. Ask the person to promise they will tell someone if suicidal thoughts return. This will make it more likely they will seek help.
- Look after yourself. It is difficult and emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal, don’t do it on your own. Find someone to talk to, friends, family or a health professional.
- Stay involved. Thoughts of suicide do not disappear easily. The continuing involvement of family and friends is very important to the person’s recovery.
Who to call:
MindInfoline: 0300 123 3393
Tel: 116 123
Papyrus HOPElineUK – 0800 068 41 41
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Mary Godfrey with Tracy Denby (2004) Depression and older people: Towards securing well-being in later life, London: Help the Aged.