Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released figures which shows suicide rates among adults in the UK have fallen by 4.7% and are at a six-year low.

This fall in suicides, according to ONS, has been credited to the work of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England, the NHS, charities, the British Transport Police and others.

It’s great to see the media celebrating this news; championing those who work so hard to break down the negative stigma and deafening silence around suicide. Yet, I worry that this is where it’ll stop.

We can all play a part in stopping suicide being such a taboo topic – whether we’ve had personal links to it or not. As a parent, teacher, accountant or student – we can all engage in these conversations, which can subsequently save lives.

But, how do we do this?

Suicide is a complex topic; full of misunderstandings and bereavement. Yet, we don’t all need to be experts in this field to help break the silence. Of course, we need to be wise about how to talk about it; but that doesn’t mean we should stay silent.

Here are three points which can help you get started.

Debunking Myths.
There are so many myths around people dying by suicide that feed into an unhelpful taboo culture. Take a moment to get clued up on the facts and educate yourself around this topic. This Samaritans article is a great place to start.

Language Matters.
The language we use around talking about suicide is really important. Suicide is no longer illegal, therefore, using the word ‘commit’ in the context of suicide is factually incorrect. Here’s help phrases to use that the Samaritans recommends:

Phrases to use:
– A suicide
– Take one’s own life
– Die by/death by suicide
– Suicide Attempt
– A completed suicide

Phrases to avoid:
– Commit suicide
– Cry for help
– A ‘successful’ or ‘unsuccessful’
– Suicide victim
– Suicide ‘epidemic’, ‘craze’ or ‘hot spot’
– Suicide-prone
– Suicide ‘tourist’

Trigger Warning.
Talking about suicide can be triggering for some people, and that’s ok. You never know how it has affected someone’s life. Plus, it is incredibly sad to know that people are experiencing such an agonizing amount of pain. Take time to consider who you’re talking to and how different people react to the topic. Look after yourself and others if this topic has is triggering.

If you’re worried about someone and don’t know how to tackle it, here are some things you can do which can help them open up.

Remember: there’s a person – and bereaved friends and family – behind every statistic.

Where to go for more information (websites/helplines):

Samaritans – Offering a safe place to talk any time of day or night. 116 123(UK) 116 123(ROI)

Mind – An infoline open 9am-6pm Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays). 0300 123 3393

Childine – A free helpline for children and young people. 0800 1111


This article originally featured on the Huffington Post blog on 12/09/2017.

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