Everyone can play a part in suicide prevention

As part of its #KeepTalking campaign this winter RSABI has produced a video, filmed on a farm in Aberdeenshire, which seeks to improve understanding about suicide and how everyone can play a part in prevention.
Louise Penfold and PC Davis pictured with Carol McLaren, RSABI Chief Executive (centre)Louise Penfold and PC Davis pictured with Carol McLaren, RSABI Chief Executive (centre)
Louise Penfold and PC Davis pictured with Carol McLaren, RSABI Chief Executive (centre)

Created with input from Scottish Action for Mental Health (SAMH) and Police Scotland, the film highlights the benefits of talking about suicide and better understanding the steps we can take to make a difference.

One of the strong themes of the video is hope, along with the clear message that becoming more comfortable talking about suicide will help to save lives.

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“Research has shown that the risk of suicide is more to do with what happens to people and the circumstances they experience than suffering a mental health illness or condition,” said PC Jonathan Davis, You Matter Coordinator, Police Scotland.

“It is also known that people who are involved in occupations where they are more isolated, or are vulnerable because of, for example, the risk of financial instability, are potentially more at risk of suffering from thoughts of suicide.”

The short film explains that two factors have been shown to make the biggest difference to people who have lived with thoughts of suicide or have survived an attempt to take their life.

They are having someone who will listen to them – really listen to them – and for someone to show them kindness and treat them with compassion. Importantly, this is not about attempting to take the role of a mental health professional or trying to fix their problems, but about giving them time, showing you care and listening which can make a massive difference.

Louise Penfold, SAMH Suicide Prevention Development Officer, says there is always hope for someone who is having thoughts of suicide: It is a myth that by asking someone if they have had thoughts of suicide, you might plant a seed of an idea. That is categorically untrue.

“In fact, what the research proves is that talking about suicide reduces the risk of suicide. So, the more comfortable we can get with talking to people and asking them about any thoughts of suicide, the safer we can make our communities.”

One of the most effective ways to keep someone safe when they have thoughts of suicide is to help them make a safety plan to support them when thoughts of suicide are at their most intense.

“This includes a note of the people who can be contacted to offer help and support, places you can go where you know you can stay safe or distract yourself, emergency contacts such as crisis lines or your GP or charities available nationwide or locally,” said PC Davis.

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“It is very important to recognise that there may be occasions when a safety plan is not enough and if you are concerned a person is not able to keep themselves safe, or if you are not able to keep yourself safe, you must call 999. No-one will ever criticise you for asking for help when you need it.”

RSABI offers free practical, financial, and emotional support including counselling services. Its free confidential support service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, by calling 0808 1234 555 (calls won’t show up on phone bills) or through a confidential webchat service, available at www.rsabi.org.uk.

There are many other organisations which can offer help, support and advice. If you have a question about mental health, please contact the SAMH Information Service, open Monday to Friday, on 0344 800 0550 or visit its website at www.samh.org.uk. If life is hard right now, Samaritans are here to listen – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org for more ways to speak to a Samaritan.

The video is available to view at www.youtube.com/@rsabi5575