We need to talk about suicide - charity's plea as North East records stark figures

A charity which helps people at their lowest point has said those in need should not see seeking help as a weakness.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 5th September 2019, 6:05 am
The latest figures show the suicide rates across the UK, including Sunderland.

Washington Mind, which provides mental health and wellbeing support, services and training, has spoken in response to the latest figures reporting the number of suicides across the UK in 2018.

Across the North East, the figures stood at 287 in 2018, following on from 248 in 2017.

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Washington Mind has been given public health funding across Sunderland and South Tyneside to run training sessions and address the "taboo subject that people avoid talking about.”

A Life Worth Living suicide prevention and intervention training focuses on asking someone who is struggling with life “openly and honestly” about suicidal thoughts and gives them the opportunity to talk about and share them with someone.

The team say it can bring comfort and support and lead people to assess professional help if needed, with the course helping to boost knowledge, understanding and confidence when speaking to someone experiencing such thoughts.

With men most at risk of taking their own lives, the charity hopes more men will take up the chance to train, and says the peer support they could offer would be a “game changer.”

Kathy McKenna-Churchill, training manager and Life co-ordinator, said: “We need to move from viewing seeking help as a weakness and view it as a wise move.

“Talking about suicide is difficult – not talking about suicide is devastating.

“So don’t be alone with those thoughts, share them with someone you trust.

“If you are struggling or you know someone who is, please know, that you are not alone.

“There is support out there.”

She added: “Thankfully the statistics are identifying a gradual decline overall in the rate of suicide, however there is more that we can do.

“The statistics tell us that men are more vulnerable to suicide – they continue to be the most at risk group.

“Men find it difficult to talk and we can’t blame men for ‘not opening up’, when opening up and talking about emotions are not things that are men are ‘taught’.

“But the statistics tell us that a lot of people male female, young and old are ending their own lives.

“We need to offer all people the opportunity to express their feelings and concerns and within this when needed, we need to talk about suicide.

“There is support available.

“At Washington Mind we see many people struggling with life and although there is a lot of pressure on mental health services where demand outweighs capacity, with a community approach we can all play a part in reducing

suicides.”

Anyone who would like to find out more about the training can call (0191) 417 8043 or visit www.washingtonmind.org.uk/alwl-training/.

The charity has also offered a list of places where people can seek further help:

*https://wellbeinginfo.org/self-help/mental-health/crisis/ which offers advice and information on what to do if you or someone you know does not feel safe or is self-harming

*The Samaritans can be called on 116 123 24-hours a day and can also be emailed via jo@samaritans.org

*Papyrus, which offers help for people under 35, can be called on 0800 068 41 41 Monday to Friday between 10am to 10pm and at weekends from 2pm to 10pm.

*Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm) is for men and can be called on 0800 58 58 58 from 5pm to midnight every day

*The Silver Line, which supports people aged 55 and above and can be called on 0800 4 70 80 90.