Every year, people around the world come together on the 10 September to raise awareness of suicide prevention and discuss and share practices on how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.
This year the focus is creating ‘hope through action’ and with directed support and greater public awareness and education of mental health and suicide the Highland Community Planning Partnership collectively aim to reduce deaths by suicide across Highland, by encouraging open and honest conversations at a local level to help reduce the stigma around poor mental health and suicide.
Suicide is preventable, it’s not inevitable, but not being okay is still widely stigmatised.
Across Highland we can all play our part in making better, more ambitious plans to prevent suicide.
The reality is at any one time, 1 in around 20 people are contemplating suicide.
On average, 2 people go on to take their own life every day in Scotland.
These aren’t just statistics.
It’s a loss of a person’s life, someone’s family, their friends, and their work colleagues.
In Highland council area, there were 42 probable suicide deaths in 2022 compared to 40 in 2021 and 44 in 2020.
The five-year average number of deaths in Highland for 2018-2022 was 50, compared to 39 in 2013-2017.
The standardised rate of suicide (per 100,000 population) in Highland in 2018-2022 was higher than the national average for both males and females.
While caution is needed in interpreting changes in incidence over the short term, it is important to acknowledge that suicide deaths were lower in 2022 than in 2019.
This is despite the adverse impact of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis on people’s mental health, which might have been expected to lead to an increase in suicide.
That’s why it’s so important that if you are having thoughts of suicide, you reach out to someone, either a family member, a friend, or a colleague.
There are a number of national and local groups offering support in a time of crisis or mental distress.
If you are concerned about someone else don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you okay” and help them to get help.
To raise awareness and direct people to support networks, the Highland Community Planning Partnership are hosting Mental Health and Suicide Aware Drop in Session on Friday 8 September at the Glass House, Botanic Gardens-Inverness, between 11am – 3pm. Join us for a free cuppa and take the opportunity to share experiences and/or find out more information on the support available within our communities across Highland.
Suicide is preventable.
If you, or someone you know needs support in relation to suicide, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87
Other local support groups include:
● Mikeysline – 07786 207755
● James Support group – 07563 572 471 (24-hour helpline)
● Ewen’s Room – 01967 401130
● Lochaber Hope – 01397 704836
The Highland Community Planning Partnership – Mental Health Delivery Group Chair, Kathy Steer said:
“As a group we recognise that every person lost to suicide is a tragedy, for their loved ones, their colleagues, and society.
“Research suggests that open and honest communication about mental ill-health helps towards suicide prevention.
“Conversations have the power to increase awareness and understanding, remind people they are not alone and help break the stigma which can be a barrier for those seeking help.”
Prevent Suicide Highland Smartphone App, provides guidance for members of the public as to what they can do to help someone experiencing mental distress and perhaps contemplating suicide.
The app offers local key contacts, and a safety plan template to help keep you, or others, safe.
There is also information and support for those who have been bereaved by suicide.
The Prevent suicide is free and is available for both Android and iPhone.
For information on local Suicide Intervention and Prevention Programme training visit: Highland Mental Wellbeing – A collection of resources to support mental wellbeing (scot.nhs.uk)