Suicide Prevention Day 2021: counsellor’s advice on dealing with mental health issues and where to go for help

World Suicide Prevention Day takes place every year in September

Suicide is one of the biggest killers of men in the UK, with suicide in young women also increasing drastically since 2012.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that in 2019, the male suicide rate of 16.9 deaths per 100,000 was the highest since 2000, and remains in line with the rate in 2018.

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For females, the rate was 5.3 deaths per 100,000, which is consistent with 2018 and the highest since 2004.

Suicides in Scotland also rose in 2019 compared with the previous year.

In 2020, there were 5,224 suicides registered in England and Wales, with around three-quarters of these being men, which follows a consistent trend back to the mid-1990s.

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Although this was significantly lower than 2019 figures, the ONS said the latest decrease is likely to be because of both registration delays during the Covid pandemic and a decrease in male suicide at the start of the pandemic.

This World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September), NationalWorld hears from those personally affected by mental health issues, a grief and trauma counsellor offering advice, and where to go for support.

‘It was the worst time’

Sophie struggled with depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts during her teenage years, which culminated in a psychotic episode she says was probably “the hardest thing” she went through at the time.

Sophie said she would “go to bed every night terrified I was going to die, and then wake up every morning wishing that I had”.

“It was the worst time ever and I was torn between not wanting to be alive anymore, feeling hopeless and wanting to escape, but being so scared of dying,” she added.

In 2016, Sophie joined the Samaritans, something which brought her out of her shell and has allowed her to help others who are struggling.

Sophie explained that she didn’t know much about the Samaritans when she was going through a difficult time in her late teens, but that she thinks they would have been really helpful to her in her situation.

She said her volunteer work with the charity has allowed her to “give something to people who are struggling” and has “really changed my whole life”.

“I used to have no self-esteem whatsoever, I was really, really shy, and awkward. If you told me before I started that I’d become a trainer or a director, or anything else I’d think ‘no way’” Sophie said.

The volunteer explained that “whatever mood you go into a shift, you always feel like you’ve done something helpful’’ and that “it really helps to put into perspective what people go through”.

“It can be really hard to hear some of that stuff that people are experiencing. But being there, and knowing you’re making a difference is a privilege,” Sophie added.

Lianna Champ, who has over 40 years’ experience in grief and trauma counselling and  author of practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ, builds on the importance of someone who is struggling having someone they can talk to about how they’re feeling.

She said: “If someone feels that they can talk to you about anything and come away from you with their self-esteem intact and feel that they have had a confidential sounding board, this can go a long way to becoming an outlet when things become challenging for them.”

Ms Champs added that it is only by talking about our fears and thoughts surrounding death and suicide that we can “begin to unravel what has taken us to that point”.

“The power of spoken words can release so much pressure,” she added.

Where to go for help and support

For those struggling, there are a variety of places which offer help and support.

Anyone can contact Samaritans for free at any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email [email protected] or visit the Samaritans website. 

The below helplines are free to call and unless it says otherwise, they’re open 24 hours a day, every day.

You can also call these helplines for advice if you’re worried about someone else.

Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day

Visit the webchat page

Call 0800 068 41 41 – 9am to midnight every day

Text 07860 039967

  • Childline – for children and young people under 19

Call 0800 1111 – the number will not show up on your phone bill

Call 0300 1020 505 – 4pm to midnight every day

Alternatively, you can message a text line. If you do not want to talk to someone over the phone, these text lines are open 24 hours a day, every day.

Text "SHOUT" to 85258

Text "YM" to 85258