As groups around the country mark Suicide Prevention Week, experts from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) are emphasising the importance of communication as a way of helping save lives.
From today (Monday 10th) through to next Sunday (the 16th), the annual focus on preventing suicides is being marked within Greater Glasgow and Clyde by urging people to talk more and listen more. Dr Trevor Lakey, from NHSGGC's Mental Health Partnership, explains: "Everyone can help do something to help prevent suicide. Maybe not everyone realises this, but suicide prevention is actually something you can be trained in and it's essentially all about learning how to talk and to listen to people in crisis."
Dr Lakey, who is also Choose Life Coordinator* for the Glasgow City area, adds: "In Glasgow City alone, well over a thousand people have been through training in suicide prevention skills, including the ASIST course -Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. Several hundred more people are scheduled to undergo training over the next year or so.
"It's very encouraging that so many agencies, groups and individuals are prepared to invest time and energy in better preparing themselves to help people at risk of suicide."
A number of efforts to tackle and reduce levels of suicide and self-harm are underway within the NHSGGC area, working with a variety of different partner organisations.
One project set up with help from Choose Life is North Glasgow LifeLink, which is hosting an International Suicide Awareness Day today (Monday). LifeLink Project Manager Beryl Donnelly explains how they work: "LifeLink was set up in direct response to a number of suicides in the north of the city. We're now becoming established as a local centre dedicated to suicide prevention and to providing support for people who self harm. There are well-established connections between poverty and ill-health, and suicide and self-harm are no exception.
"We hope we can help more people to choose life when they've lost their relationship with living. We hope they can in turn pass this on to other people, through good example and through suicide prevention training in the community."
A number of people helped by North Glasgow LifeLink told a recent evaluation how it had helped them overcome their suicidal thoughts:
* "I can talk to adults without feeling paranoid and useless; I can understand my emotions and I stopped using alcohol to suppress them".
* "I feel I am on the way to being stable"
* "Helped me overcome the way I felt about life, myself and suicidal thoughts"
* "Gave me hope for the future and made me think that I should stop feeling guilty"
* "LifeLink helped me to understand that I am not alone, that there is support and that I had to make the first move"
* "If it was not for them I would not be here"
One of the main features of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's work on suicide prevention has been to identify and build extra support for the most vulnerable groups; young people, people misusing alcohol and drugs, homeless people, older people. Work is also ongoing through targeting primary care services and research to gain better understanding of needs of vulnerable young people.
If you need to talk about your feelings you can call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 (6pm-2am)
* For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.
* For more details on North Glasgow LifeLink, please see http://www.lifelink.org.uk/.
* A significant rise in the levels of suicide across Scotland during the 1990s led to mounting concern and a desire to respond to this tragic loss of life. The response was the creation of the national Choose Life strategy and action plan, launched in 2002. This set a target of reducing suicides by 20% by 2013. This gave a focus and some dedicated resources to every area of Scotland to galvanise efforts to reverse this trend. There is a Choose Life programme in every local authority area in Scotland, each drawing in contributions from multiple agencies and community interests.
* *Choose Life is Scotland's national strategy and action plan to prevent suicide. See www.chooselife.net.