World Suicide Prevention Day – Take a Minute
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Taking a minute to reach out to someone in your community – a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – could change the course of another’s life.
Individuals who have survived a suicide attempt have much to teach us about how the words and actions of others can be important, and many of them are now working as advocates for suicide prevention and have informed resources which are now readily available.
People are often reluctant to intervene, for many reasons, including a fear of not knowing what to say. It is important to remember, there is no specific formula. Empathy, compassion, genuine concern, knowledge of resources and a desire to help are key to preventing a tragedy.
Another factor that prevents individuals from intervening is the worry of making the situation worse. This hesitance is understandable as suicide is a difficult issue to address, accompanied by a myth that suggests talking about it may instigate vulnerable individuals to contemplate the idea or trigger the act. Evidence suggests that this is not the case. The offer of support and a listening ear are more likely to reduce distress, as opposed to exacerbating it.
We need to look out for those who are not coping. Individuals in distress are often not looking for specific advice. Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking, feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family & society, anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.
The listening ear of someone with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement can help restore hope. We can check in with them, ask them how they are doing and encourage them to tell their story. This small gesture goes a long way.
- Take a minute to notice what is
going on with you, your family, your
friends and your colleagues.
- Take a minute to reach out and
start a conversation if you notice
something is different.
- Take a minute to find out what
help is available for both you and
Many reputable resources are available to assist people in reaching out to individuals at risk of suicide.
This campaign is about giving people the confidence to
have the conversation by connecting them with resources to
The take home message is that you don’t have to be a
clinician, GP or nurse to check in with the person whom you
are concerned about.
• Members or groups in your community
• Work colleagues
• Suicide prevention organisations
This conversation movement endeavours to inspire others to
help break the silence and ask ‘are you ok?’ to support
someone struggling with some simple steps that could
change a life.
Mental Health First Aid
This evidence-based, internationally-recognised course
teaches participants the framework of communication, how
to offer and provide initial help, and how to guide a person
towards appropriate treatment and other supportive help.
Take 5 to Save Lives
This campaign encourages everyone to take 5 minutes out of
their day and complete five action items:
1. Learn the warning signs
2. Do your part
3. Practise self-care
4. Reach out
5. Spread the word
There are numerous other examples too; relevant resources can be found on the websites of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (https://www.iasp.info/resources/Helping_Someone/) and the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/en/).