Today is World Suicide Prevention Day - here’s how to get help and look out for others

There are resources available to those who might be struggling (Photo: Shutterstock)There are resources available to those who might be struggling (Photo: Shutterstock)
There are resources available to those who might be struggling (Photo: Shutterstock)

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World Suicide Prevention Day strives to create awareness around suicide prevention.

This is what you need to know about how to get help, or how to offer help to someone you think might be struggling.

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What is World Suicide Prevention Day?

World Suicide Prevention Day takes place on 10 September 2020, and this year’s theme is ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide.’

Suicide prevention charity, The Samaritans, explains, “Every year, organisations and communities around the world comes together to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.”

World Suicide Prevention Day is important because, in 2018, in the UK and Republic of Ireland, more than 6,800 people died of suicide.

“Not being okay is still widely stigmatised,” The Samaritans explain, meaning that those struggling with mental health problems find it difficult to seek help.

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The latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that male suicide is at a two decade high in England and Wales.

In 2019, 5,691 deaths were attributed to suicide in England and Wales, a rate consistent with that recorded in 2018.

In Scotland, the NHS Information Services Division (ISD) said that there were 784 probable suicides in 2018, an increase from 680 in 2017.

National mental health charity Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) called these figures “devastating.”

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What help is available for those struggling?

For those that are struggling with their mental health, there is a wide variety of resources that are available that can help.

The NHS has a large list of mental health charities and their contact details that you might find helpful, including:

Anxiety UK

Anxiety UK is a charity which provides support for those struggling with an anxiety condition.

You can get in touch by phoning 03444 775 774.

Their lines are open from Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:30pm.

The website is


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CALM stands for Campaign Against Living Miserably, and provides support for men aged 15 to 35.

You can get in touch by phoning 0800 58 58 58, their lines are open daily between 5pm to midnight.

The website is


The Samaritans provide confidential support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

You can get in touch by phoning the 24 helpline at 116 123.

The website is


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Mind is a mental health charity which offers information and advice to people with mental health problems and lobbies the government and local authorities on their behalf.

You can get in touch by phoning 0300 123 3393. The lines are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.

The website is

As well as helplines, the NHS advises that if someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they should try to talk to someone they trust.

“Let family or friends know what's going on for you. They may be able to offer support and help keep you safe. There's no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings – starting the conversation is what's important,” the NHS says.

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You can also call a GP for an emergency appointment, or phone 111 where they will be able to find you support and help.

Are there any signs that show someone is struggling?

The Samaritans released a guide for those looking to support someone in their life that they’re worried about.

While everyone copes with depression in their own way, the Samaritans said that these are the signs to look out for that might be struggling:

  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Feeling angry and aggressive
  • Feeling tearful
  • Being tired or lacking in energy
  • Not wanting to talk or to be with people
  • Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
  • Not replying to messages or being distant
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless
  • Talking about feeling trapped by life circumstances that they can’t see a way out of, or feeling
  • unable to escape their thoughts
  • A change in routine, such as sleeping or eating more or less than normal
  • Engaging in risk taking behaviour, like gambling or violence

You may not always be able to spot these signs, especially because people are self isolating due to coronavirus.

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The Samaritans say that it may be helpful to look out for circumstances that could trigger suicidal thoughts, or make it hard for someone to cope, such as:

  • Loss, including loss of a friend or a family member through bereavement
  • Suicide or attempted suicide of family member, friend or public figure
  • Relationship and family problems
  • Housing problems
  • Financial worries
  • Job-related stress
  • College or study-related pressures
  • Bullying, abuse or neglect
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Challenging current events
  • Depression
  • Painful and/or disabling physical illness
  • Heavy use of or dependency on alcohol or other drugs

How can I support a friend I’m worried about?

The Samaritans say that if you think someone is in immediate danger of taking their own life or hurting themselves, the quickest way to get help is by calling an ambulance on 999.

You can do this regardless of if you are with them in person or not, however you will need to be able to provide a location.

Emergency service professionals will be able to help from there. If you don’t think there’s any immediate danger to their life, then there are other ways you can help a friend or family member that might be struggling.

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The Samaritans say that you should reach out and be available to them, either in person or, in the age of coronavirus, online or by the phone.

You should remember the acronym SHUSH, which stands for:

  • Show you care: focus on the other person, maintain eye contact and be engaged with them
  • Have patience: it may take some time and several attempts before someone feels ready to open up about their struggles
  • Use open questions: avoid questions or statements that closes down the conversation - instead, ask questions that encourage the other person to open up. For example, try asking: “How are you feeling today?”
  • Say it back: repeating something back to someone is a good way to reassure them that you have their attention, and allows you to make sure you’re on the same page and not making any assumptions
  • Have courage: the Samaritans say that is you’re worried that someone is suicidal, it’s okay to ask them directly - research shows that this helps, because it gives the other person permission to tell you how they feel without thinking that they are a burden

You can read more about how to offer support to someone you’re worried is experiencing suicidal thoughts on the Samaritans website here.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title The Scotsman