Monday, September 10, 2012

World Suicide Prevention Day

U Can Cope

Entitled “U CAN COPE” Over one hundred UK organisations are combining their efforts to broadcast a message of hope on World Suicide Prevention Day, starting today, the 10th September 2012

This has a special resonance as a new friend of mine Angie Dowds (from ITV’s The Biggest Loser) committed suicide last year.   I did not know her very well - we were planning to work on her biography - but I was shocked and immediately felt guilty, maybe if I had called her at a time when she was feeling very desperate, I could have helped her or offered a different perspective?  I still think about her often. 

According to the Office for National Statistics suicide rates in the UK in 2010 were 17 per 100,000 men aged over 15 and just over 5 per 100,000 women in the same age group.   Professor Stephen Platt, Professor of Health Policy Research at the University of Edinburgh says that “Men are over three times as likely to commit suicide as women.  The middle years, from your mid-thirties to your mid-fifties are those with the highest suicide rates.”

And it is a sobering thought that each year in the UK, twice as many people die by suicide than lose their lives in road traffic accidents.

On the 10th September 2012 the Samaritans and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are leading a coalition of more than one hundred UK organisations - from mental health bodies to the Professional Cricketers’ Association - to spread the message that it is possible to overcome suicidal thoughts and feelings and to highlight the fact that there are many resources available to help those who are struggling to cope.

Spearheading the campaign is a film called “U Can Cope” featuring a number of very strong, emotional and honest testimonials by men and women who, for very different reasons, had found themselves thinking that suicide was their only option. They all sought help, however, and came to realise they were not alone, that it was a huge relief to talk to someone about their problems and that they could find new reasons for living.  The film promotes three main messages:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·      <!--[endif]-->Anyone can experience suicidal thoughts,
<!--[if !supportLists]-->·      <!--[endif]-->There is always hope,
<!--[if !supportLists]-->·      <!--[endif]-->There is always help.

Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist Dr Alys Cole-King has been quoted as saying  “Suicidal thoughts start because people feel overwhelmed by their problems or their situation and find it hard to ‘see a way out’. It’s not that they necessarily want their life to end, it’s just that they cannot cope with their emotional or physical pain any more.”
“The underlying reasons are different for each person. Sometimes it may be due to a mental illness or triggered by things like the loss of a relationship, the loss of support, physical illness, and financial worries, appearing in court or the death of a loved one.  All these are types of event that any of us can (and do) experience during our lives. However, no matter how desperate you feel, if you know where to get help and how to get help, you can get through the crisis.”

The message of the “U Can Cope” film is backed up by three new resources which offer contacts, guidance and practical help to people in distress in the form of leaflets and on-line via the Connecting with People and Royal College of Psychiatrists’ websites. They are called:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->·      <!--[endif]-->“Feeling On The Edge? Helping you get through it”;
<!--[if !supportLists]-->·      <!--[endif]-->“Feeling Overwhelmed? Helping you stay safe”;
<!--[if !supportLists]-->·      <!--[endif]-->“U Can Cope”. 

The film is due to be shown at the joint launch event for the Call to Action for Suicide Prevention in England and the Government’s Suicide Prevention Strategy, on World Suicide Prevention Day and you can find a link to all the information surrounding this event on the UK Health Blog.

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Organisations funding the “U Can Cope” film and campaign for World Suicide Prevention Day:

Connecting With People:
The Royal College of Psychiatrists:
Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board Charitable Funds:
Primhe and Primhe Training CIC:
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy:
STORM Skills Training CIC:  
Mental Health Foundation:
British Association of Social Workers:
Cariad yn Cyfri:

There are scores of further organisations and individuals offering their support and practical help to the “U Can Cope” Campaign including: The Professional Cricketers’ Association, The Royal College of General Practice, The College of Emergency Medicine, The Royal College of Nursing, The College of Medicine, IASP Cultural special interest group, Big White Wall, CALM, Public Health Wales, PAPYRUS, Heads Up Cornwall.