October 12 - Talking about suicide and mental health

IT has been said that when a person takes their own life they die, but others are left injured.

IT has been said that when a person takes their own life they die, but others are left injured.

The sceptre of suicide has hovered for too long in the shadows of society, devastating lives, ripping communities apart.

In recent days we have seen the most positive side of our fantastic city, a community coming together to deal with shock and tragedy.

But it is our - everyone’s - responsibility to shift the focus, remove the stigma and taboo around suicide and particularly mental health issues. It need not be something one must deal with individually and instead would be better treated as one would a physical ailment.

People know what to offer when someone is sick or suffers a broken limb; you know yourself what help to seek when such a thing happens. So why does the process differ in the area of mental health?

We live in a society where nearly three and a half times as many people take their own lives as die on the roads. The Government has attempted to tackle that issue head on. Can the same be said of mental health awareness and suicide?

The help is there for those that need it. Support networks are available to those seeking help. But these bodies need funding, and the Government must offer more support. Where that is lacking, we must offer whatever we can.

But it is in the schools that attitudes towards suicide, the awareness of mental health illnesses and not feeling ok or yourself can be changed. Educational programmes identifying services in the local community are a must.

Best practice suggests that this must come from within the community to have any chance of success.

There is still a sense of embarrassment surrounding mental health and ultimately that provides a huge advantage to suicide - when we are not talking about it, we certainly are not confronting it.