Thousands of young people are being asked to find out more about the hidden reasons behind mental health issues and suicide. A series of events are being held in South Ayrshire to coincide with Suicide Prevention Week (10-16 September, 2018).
The national Choose Life 'Read between the lines' campaign asks everyone, regardless of age, to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. If you're worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.
During Suicide Prevention Week the South Ayrshire Choose Life team will be at Fresher's events at the Ayr campuses of Ayrshire College and the University of the West of Scotland. 'Read between the lines' promotional material will also be distributed to other local student venues, while South Ayrshire Council will be promoting a positive message in all eight of its secondary schools with more activity planned for later in the year.
Choose Life has widely available information cards and leaflets that provide information on how to help, for example, advice on starting conversations about suicide and listening effectively.
Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: "Every life matters and no death by suicide should be regarded as either acceptable or inevitable. Over the past decade, Scotland has made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide but we want to go further. Our view is that suicide is preventable, and where anyone contemplating suicide or who has lost a loved one to suicide should get the support they need.
"If we are to achieve this, we need to make clear that suicide prevention is everyone's business. We need to work together across sectors and organisations to identify and support people in distress, strengthen communities, and save lives."
The emotional impact on families, friends and communities bereaved by suicide is devastating and can have long lasting negative effects on those left behind. Suicide prevention is everyone's business and the new Suicide Prevention Action Plan for Scotland, Every Life Matters, continues to support the national outcome to enable people to live longer, healthier lives.
Fiona Longmuir, Choose Life Co-ordinator in South Ayrshire, said: "If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, you will normally notice. When changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – the most important aspect is to ask them about it.
"Talking openly about their feelings can help a person get clarity about what is troubling them. Starting this conversation helps them gain a perspective on their distress. You don't need to have a solution to their problems – being there for them and listening, without judgement, shows that you care and their distress, and ultimately their happiness, is important to you."
"Don't be afraid to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide. It won't put the thought into their head if it wasn't there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to open up fully and acknowledge they need help and support. By taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life."
Choose Life in South Ayrshire will strengthen its efforts to reduce suicide rates locally by working in partnership with individuals and local communities as well as continuing to provide training and self-harm educational awareness-raising sessions
Working with organisations like Touched by Suicide Scotland and Beautiful Inside & Out, who provide support and self-help to those affected by suicide, Choose Life hopes to reduce stigma and isolation and allow families to support each other and better cope with their loss.
For more information about Choose Life and suicide prevention, visit: www.chooselife.net
Alternatively, if you are in crisis, call Breathing Space on 0800 838587, the Samaritans on 116 123 or Childline on 0800 11 11