Reading the newest data on suicide released by the Office of National Statistics the rise in female suicide shocked me. Although I am all too aware of current suicide statistics, it’s the biggest killer in men under 45 and a young person attempts suicide approx. every 20 minutes, I had at least hoped that the situation was getting better. But it’s not. Not only is female suicide on the rise, it’s also on the increase among students. It’s at its highest since 2007. It made headlines in the news recently with The Howard League for Penal Reform reporting 102 known suicides in prisons; the highest since it’s inception in 1978.
Perhaps the one silver lining here as we face the festive period is that, despite firmly held beliefs, Christmas is not peak time for taking ones life. As it turns out this is in fact the spring. But no matter how you look at it, it’s not okay. No-one should feel that their only option is to take their own life. It’s not a decision taken lightly. We know over 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental health problem or addiction. The stigma and discrimination which continues to pervade society with ideas that those who attempt or complete suicide are weak or selfish need to be silenced. There needs to be far more understanding and a whole lot more empathy in this area. It’s sorely lacking.
There also needs to be more support. Suicide is a symptom of an illness, it marks the end of a journey. It’s unacceptable that the lack of support for those with mental health problems will inevitably allow illness to escalate to a point of crisis where suicide appears to the person to be a viable option. After all, who hasn’t been in pain and wished that it would all stop. We know that early intervention is integral in suicide prevention. The Royal College of Nursing highlights early intervention as vital. We know what needs to be done and yet the implementation doesn’t seem to exist.
As we enter the New Year let’s hope the government’s new suicide prevention strategy due in January will begin to stem the flow of suicide which causes untold suffering.
For support please contact Samaritans on 116 123 for free.
For medical advise contact your GP or in case of an emergency call 999.