And in the face of rising everything, bills, food, petrol, energy, things are only going to get busier. We’ve already seen calls to our helpline about money increase by 25%, and that’s without any additional increases in the price of essentials. Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now.
Wendy says: “The staff on our helpline save lives and stop suicide every day. But what we’re facing now is unprecedented. There’s almost no one this situation doesn’t affect. There needs to be more done to make sure this crisis doesn’t take lives through suicide. And that needs meaningful action across a whole host of places. First and foremost, making sure people aren’t falling into poverty and homelessness, but more than that, protecting jobs, making sure there’s education and welfare.”
The cost of living crisis will disproportionately affect poorer households. We know that men in the most disadvantaged areas of the UK are up to 10 times more likely to take their own lives than those in affluent areas, which is why we need action now.
Dr Jay Watts, consultant clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, who echoed our concerns.
“We know suicide rates are greater in deprived areas and that more people die by suicide when countries face a recession or drop in the standard of living. Combine this with our current benefits system, which so often makes claimants feel that worklessness equates with worthlessness, and we have a toxic mix.”
Alongside calling for more funding and provision from the government for the NHS, Dr Jay believes that a key part of suicide prevention in 2022 is community.
“We need to put suicide prevention right in the heart of our local communities and to normalise talking about death in general. In many other cultures, death is much more central and much more unavoidable. In the UK, we like to brush it under the carpet, which does us no good, making talking about and seeking help for suicidality much more difficult.
And that’s where CALM comes in. While we’re all facing some really difficult choices and situations, we can all have an individual impact through connection.
CALM CEO Simon Gunning believes that only through a combination of societal and individual change that true impact can be made to the tragic 6000 lives lost to suicide every year in the UK.
“Right now, it feels a little bit like a conveyor belt of crap. You’ve just got these things coming at you everyday. People are scared, people don’t know what to expect or how we’re going to cope. That’s where we need strong leadership, just like we had the furlough scheme in 2020 to lessen the impact of covid on people’s income. We need strong, decisive leadership to ensure people aren’t being dragged into poverty, because the consequences of that, as CALM knows, can be tragic.
“And alongside that leadership, we all need to be in this together. That’s one thing that came out so strongly for CALM during the pandemic, that power for us to come together.
“There’s some stuff we, as individuals, can’t control - the energy price cap, how much a litre of petrol sets you back, the price of a tin of beans, but what we can control is how we talk about the situation. When it comes to your home, food, bills, it’s all stuff that’s vital to your survival, so it’s natural to feel like you’re the only one struggling - even if we know that’s not true. Being honest about what you're facing makes it easier for others to share too.
“So really, while it’s on organisations like CALM to call on the government for the leadership that we so desperately need in this , on a personal level it’s about people being honest and normalising talking about money and what’s going on in our head.. And it’s only with the combination of those two approaches, societal and individual, that we’ll start to see that devastating 125 lives lost to suicide every week reducing.”
Effective suicide prevention isn’t only helping people when they’re at crisis point, it’s working across industries, political beliefs, cultures and communities to make support accessible and available, and working cross-organisationally to tackle well known risk factors to suicide prevention like poverty, homelessness and addiction. Only then can we truly be United Against Suicide.