Reach out to someone who may need help – it could save their life
Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday (10 September), Dorset HealthCare is urging people to reach out to anyone who might be struggling.
The theme of the day is ‘creating hope through action’. And the NHS Trust, which provides a range of mental health services, has set out some tips on how to open up a conversation with someone you’re worried about.
Dorset HealthCare’s Senior Service and Clinical Lead for Steps2Wellbeing, Ailsa Greenlees, said:
“Anyone can have suicidal thoughts, and they can be distressing or frightening for the person who is experiencing them. By being there for someone to listen and show you care can help.
“We can all make a difference by reaching out to someone in their darkest moments, supporting friends and colleagues who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts or others bereaved by suicide. No one needs to suffer alone.”
We can all take action by starting a conversation with someone by:
- choosing a good time, and a place where there are no distractions
- using open questions that need more than a yes/no answer. For example – “How are things, I’ve noticed you don’t seem quite yourself?”
- being a good listener
- avoiding giving your view of what’s wrong, or what they should do. Instead, find out what help is available and signpost to it.
Ailsa added: “It’s also important to remember that free, non-judgemental help and support is available, and we encourage anyone feeling down, stressed, worried, in a crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts to reach out for support as soon as possible.”
Dorset HealthCare offers a range of services to support people. Its Access Mental Health services are on hand to help when needed, and you don’t have to be referred by a GP or health professional. You can seek support for yourself or ask for advice about a friend or family member. Services include:
- Connection – a 24/7 helpline open to all ages. Anyone in Dorset can call 0800 652 0190, or NHS 111, for free
- The Retreat – a drop-in service in Bournemouth and Dorchester, run in partnership with the Dorset Mental Health Forum, which allows adults to talk through problems with a mental health worker or peer specialist face to face
- Community Front Rooms – a face-to-face drop-in support service for adults in Bridport, Shaftesbury, Wareham and Weymouth. They are run by local charities – The Burrough Harmony Centre (Bridport), Hope (Shaftesbury) and Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (Wareham and Weymouth) – and are all staffed by mental health and peer support workers.
In addition, Steps2Wellbeing is the free NHS Talking Therapies service for anxiety and depression and provides mental health support for Dorset and Southampton City residents who are feeling down, stressed or worried. Support is given through talking therapies, online courses and guided self-help, and can also help people who are having problems at work or living with a long-term health condition to improve their mental wellbeing.
A few years ago, 67-year-old Elaine Digby was at an all-time low and very tired. But she found a way to recovery by reaching out for help from Steps2Wellbeing. She said:
“I was a full-time carer to my dad with dementia, as well as looking after my mum. I stopped caring for myself and things went to pot at home. The counselling from Steps2Wellbeing helped me find ways to look after myself better, and gradually I faced things I needed to tackle.
“The counselling also helped me deal with childhood issues that were coming to the surface. My situation hasn’t changed but my ability to deal with it has.”
Visit our Take a Step website page for further information on Access Mental Health and Steps2Wellbeing, plus other phone, face-to-face and online support available. The International Association of Suicide Prevention can also provide further advice on reaching out to help others.
Support World Suicide Prevention Day by lighting a candle at 8pm on Sunday to remember a lost loved one and survivors of suicide.