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World Suicide Prevention Day

Every year, we campaign to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

What is World Suicide Prevention Day?
Every year, organisations and communities around the world come together to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.

When is it?
World Suicide Prevention Suicide Day is always on 10 September.

Why is it important?
The latest suicides statistics showed that in 2018, in the UK and Republic of Ireland, more than 6,800 people died by suicide. Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy. And we know that suicide is preventable, it’s not inevitable. But not being OK is still widely stigmatised. And governments can still make better, more ambitious plans to prevent suicide.

What do Samaritans do?

Every year we campaign with over 70 other suicide prevention and mental health groups under the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA). Together, we ask governments in the UK and Ireland to make suicide prevention a priority.

We also raise awareness about Samaritans, suicide prevention and provide tips on how to take care of yourself and others better. This World Suicide Prevention Day, if you’re worried someone might be experiencing suicidal thoughts – we encourage you to ask them directly.

Asking someone if they’re suicidal won’t make things worse. Evidence shows it could protect them.

If someone is feeling suicidal, it might be hard to get through to them. They might be distant or distracted or feel disconnected from the world and their own emotions. They might not respond right away. But asking someone directly if they’re having suicidal thoughts can give them permission to tell you how they feel.

If someone does let you know that they are having suicidal thoughts, always take them seriously. You don’t have to be an expert, just being there to listen and showing you care can help them work through what’s going on. Let them know they’re not a burden and there’s always someone they can turn to – whether it’s a family member or friend, or a 24/7 helpline like Samaritans.

It’s OK to ask about suicidal thoughts. It could save a life.

People who have been suicidal have often said it is a relief to talk about thoughts they are experiencing. Just being there to listen and showing you care can help. If they want to talk to someone else about how they are feeling, they can call Samaritans.

If you’re worried someone might be suicidal, asking directly can not only give us the clarification but also what action to take next. For me, approaching this question with delicacy but determination to do what is right by our callers is the best way forward. Whether through asking softly or asking when the opportunity is right. Suicide is an important topic, but it can be seen as a taboo, so it is important people know it is OK to ask, “are you feeling suicidal?” as it helps the topic of suicide enter our conversations a bit more.

Aisha, Samaritans volunteer

How to start a conversation with someone

Just being there to listen and showing you care can help. Here are some tips on how to open up a conversation with someone you’re worried about: 

  • Choose a good time, and somewhere without distractions
  • Use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer
  • ‘How are things, I’ve noticed you don’t seem quite yourself?’
  • Listen well. ‘How’s that making you feel?’
  • Avoid giving your view of what’s wrong, or what they should do

It’s normal to feel anxious about asking someone if they’re suicidal, but it could save someone’s life. Try and avoid saying things like ‘you’re not thinking of doing something stupid are you?’. Being patient and showing you care builds trust and helps someone to open up.

You could ask:

  • Have you thought about ending your life?
  • Are you saying that you want to die?
  • Are you thinking of ending your life because you want to be dead, or is it because you want the situation you’re in or the way you feel to stop?

Support WSPD

There are lots of ways you can support World Suicide Prevention Day. Feel free to share any of the assets below and remember to tag us – @samaritans on Twitter and LinkedIn, and @samaritanscharity on Facebook and Instagram.