Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day when we’re reminded of what can happen when people who are in crisis feel like they have no other option than ending their life. But also, crucially, a time when we can all come together and highlight the life-saving services that are available for anyone going through a difficult time in their life.
At CALM we’re there for people who desperately need help every day. In fact, in the 171 days since Lockdown started our helpline staff have directly prevented 240 suicides. CALM can certainly be proud of that but more importantly it highlights why, for us, every day is suicide prevention day. Every day we stand together with everyone who’s struggling with life, no matter who they are, where they’re from or what they’re going through. It’s why, now, today and tomorrow, we’re doing everything we can to make sure we can show more people there is always hope, always a reason for living.
Last week the latest Government stats on suicide came out. They showed that the rate of male suicide in England and Wales last year reached its highest level for two decades. It also showed that the suicide rate among women aged 10 to 24-year-old had also increased “significantly” since 2012 to its highest level. These are worrying signs and ones we need to continue to address.
We are determined to reach those groups and people most in need – whatever the reason for that is, from their socio-economic background to their sexual orientation. It’s so important for us to reach all those that feel there’s no one there for them and who are traditionally under-served by other mental health and suicide prevention services.
It’s also important to remember that the ONS stats were from 2019 and don’t take into account the pandemic and the effect Covid and lockdown has had on people’s mental health. We have seen unprecedented demand for our services in that time. Five months have passed since the government announced lockdown in the UK. In this time the CALM helpline answered 65,054 calls and chats and directly prevented 240 suicides. That’s over 11,000 hours talking to people and over 580,000 chat messages exchanged around topics such as isolation, anxiety, relationship concerns, health worries, financial stress and suicidal thoughts.
The financial crash in 2008 caused a distinct increase in the suicide rate among men in their 40s. What we have to do now is ensure that isn’t repeated with the potential impact of Covid. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve launched our campaign to flatten the curve for everyone struggling with their mental health. We know there has been social isolation as well as panic and uncertainty over work, money and the future. It’s left so many individuals and families suffering. We know there has been a huge rise in concerns around personal mental health as a result of things like unemployment; housing and income stress; domestic abuse and grief and loss. Alongside this there has also been a decrease in access to help for those who need it. And with an estimated half a million more people likely to experience mental health problems as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic, it’s vital that we act now to make sure we are all supported.
At CALM every single day our helpline workers are there to make sure there are more tomorrows, to help prevent a life being lost. The unprecedented demand we’ve faced means our staff have answered a call every 66 seconds since Lockdown started. It means right now our life-saving services are needed more than ever but – no matter what – we’ll continue to be there for whoever needs us.
My main message for World Suicide Prevention Day is that we all have to be a part of this. That’s why CALM is a movement against suicide. We’re all connected and this is everybody’s issue: we all go through difficult times in life and the feelings and emotions that come with that are something that unites us. We need everyone to join us in our campaign against living miserably. Check in on your mates. Push the government to act. Donate to fund a potentially life-saving call and help us meet this unprecedented demand.
When we’re united we’re stronger and we can do incredible things. We’re in this together, and we’ll do this together. Now, today and tomorrow – united against suicide.
Need support? Worried about someone? CALM’s helpline and webchat are open daily 5pm-midnight. You can get in touch with us here.
Have you been affected by suicide? The Support After Suicide Partnership is a hub for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide, where you can find emotional and practical support.
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