If you can read between the lines, you can save lives. That’s the message Choose Life is sending out to people in Fife to mark this year’s Suicide Prevention Week (4 –10 September 2017) and as part of a public awareness campaign throughout September.
Last year 43 people in Fife took their own 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.
Choose Life’s ‘Read between the lines’ campaign, asks everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. The message is simple - 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.
The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be difficult to spot, but encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously, even if it seems a person is living a normal life. It also aims to assure people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.
Jo-Anne Valentine, Choose Life Co-ordinator in Fife, 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.”
Dorothy Woolley, Choose Life Development Officer, added: “Ask 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 a minute to show you care you could change their life.”
The campaign targets men and women who are likely to be in greatest contact with people most at risk of suicide – men aged 40-49, since statistics show that around three quarters of suicides have been men in every year since 1990.
To support this campaign in Fife, Choose Life is making widely available key message cards, and booklets, such as the Art of Conversation, which gives advice on starting conversations about suicide and listening effectively.
Raising awareness of suicide prevention and giving the public information is a vital part of the Choose Life programme.
A number of activities are taking place in Fife during Suicide Prevention Week, including information stands at Victoria Hospital and Glenrothes Job Centre.
A remembrance walk for those lost to suicide is also being held on Saturday, 9th September, in Glenrothes, further details are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/remembrance-walk-for-those-lost-to-suicide-tickets-36604690615
Choose Life in Fife has made a key contribution to the continued declining trends in suicide rates both nationally and locally by working in partnership with individuals and local communities. Work includes:
* Funding to help run the Fife Self Harm Project operated by Penumbra and the Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy branches of the Samaritans.
* Training for over 1000 people in suicide prevention and intervention skills as part of Fife Health Promotion health improvement training programme over the last five years.
* Partnership between the NHS Unscheduled Care Assessment Team and Samaritans.
For information on what do if you are worried someone is feeling suicidal, and to download ‘The Art of Conversation’, a free guide on spotting the signs, starting a conversation and being a good listener, visit www.chooselife.net/ask