Suicide Prevention Day 2022: 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 in the last 10 years.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that in 2021, there were 5,583 suicides registered in England and Wales, which is equivalent to a rate of 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

Around three-quarters of suicides were males - equivalent to 16.0 deaths per 100,000 - with the rate for females being 5.5 deaths per 100,000.

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This World Suicide Prevention Day (Saturday 10 September), we hear 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’

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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”.

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“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”.

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“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.

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  • Papyrus – for people under 35. Call 0800 068 41 41 – 9am to midnight every day. Text 07860 039967. Email [email protected]
  • Childline – for children and young people under 19. Call 0800 1111 – the number will not show up on your phone bill.
  • SOS Silence of Suicide – for everyone. Call 0300 1020 505 – 4pm to midnight every day. Email [email protected] 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.

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MQ Mental Health Research, a charity which invests in scientific research into different mental health conditions and treatments, including a better understanding of suicide to find effective preventions, has also compiled a further list of resources.

For yourself:

In an emergency you should always dial 999. If you are feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts you can always reach out to your GP or call NHS Direct on 111.

  • SupportLine - Support Line offers confidential emotional support, particularly aimed at those who are isolated, at risk or vulnerable to abuse. They aim to help people develop health coping strategies through their telephone counselling service which can be reached on 01708 765 200.
  • Nightline Association (for university students) - Most universities in the UK have a Nightline service which is run by student volunteers for other students. This peer to peer support service gives students a chance to talk about whatever is worrying them in confidence. You can find your university’s Nightline details by searching on the Nightline website.

For someone else:

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In an emergency you should always dial 999.

  • SANE - The SANE helpline is open between 4pm and 10pm 365 days a year and can be reached on 0300 3047000. They offer emotional support not just for people experiencing depression, suicidal thoughts or other mental illnesses, but also for friends and family who need support or advice.
  • YoungMinds parents helpline - If you are worried about your child’s mental health (up to the age of 25) and want to speak to someone about it then Young Minds offer a helpline just for parents where you can get support and advice. Open Monday to Friday between 9:30am and 4pm on the number 0808 802 5544.
  • Rethink Mental Illness - If you are looking for some face to face support for your loved one then Rethink Mental Illness run a network of over 140 local support groups, offering a welcoming non-judgemental space where people can talk about their feelings with professionals and others. Find a local group on the Rethink website.
  • Samaritans - If you want to speak to a loved one because you are concerned about them, but are not sure how to do it, then Samaritans also offer online advice on how to reach out and the best way to support someone at risk of suicide.