Ahead of World Suicide Day on Thursday, do you know the signs of suicide?

Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day this Thursday, September 10th, Pieta, the suicide prevention charity, is launching a new campaign called ‘Signs of Suicide’. It is a public awareness drive to help people identify what signs to watch and listen out for if someone they know is considering taking their own life. Since the beginning of March, the Pieta crisis helpline has answered over 10,000 calls directly relating to suicide, self-harm and suicide bereavement.

In Ireland, the overall suicide rate for males is three times higher than for females. When a loved-one or friend is behaving in a worrying way, it is difficult to know how to help them. Pieta is urging everyone to know the ’Signs of Suicide’ when someone is considering taking their own life, so that you can help your loved one to move away from suicide, and towards hope.

Most people who talk about suicide do not want to die. They simply want to stop the pain they feel. Knowing what signs to listen and watch out for is crucial:

Signs to listen for:

  • Talking or writing about hurting themselves, dying or saying that they want to die
  • Talking about ways to die or having a suicide plan
  • Saying that they are ‘trapped’ or have no options in their life
  • Saying they have no purpose in their life, that they feel hopeless

Signs to watch out for:

  • Engaging in self-harm or reckless, risk taking behaviour
  • Giving items away or saying goodbye to people
  • Becoming more inward looking and withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changes in their sleep patterns – too much or too little sleep
  • Extreme emotions or dramatic changes in mood
  • Increasing their use of drugs or alcohol

When you know the signs, you can follow three simple steps, A.P.R. (Ask – Persuade – Refer) – and just like CPR, it can save a life.

If someone opens up to you, don’t be afraid to Ask them directly if they are thinking of suicide or want to kill themselves. Talking to them openly and honestly is one of the best things you can do. Even just listening is one of the most powerful tools available to us. Once you have asked the question, calmly and gently Persuade them to seek help or to allow you to assist them in getting help. If you cannot persuade them, remember that Pieta’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline is open 24 hours day. As soon as you can, Refer or guide them to Pieta – if you can, make the call with them or travel with them to the appointment.

Speaking about Pieta’s new ‘Signs of Suicide’ campaign, Pieta’s Clinical Director, Dr. Samuel Gower, said; "Here at Pieta, we have answered over 10,000 calls to our 24/7 suicide, self-harm and suicide bereavement crisis line in the last six months. The world as we know it has changed drastically this year, and now more than ever, it is important to look out for signs of suicide. There are often times where families speak to us following suicide bereavement, wishing they had known what to look out for or what to say. It is so important for people to know these signs, and to never be afraid to reach out to a loved one and start the conversation if they think they are struggling with suicidal thoughts.”

Pieta’s professional counsellors specialise in suicide prevention and tackling self-harm. The charity has centres all over Ireland and Pieta’s Freephone Crisis Helpline is open 24/7. All services are provided free of charge and no referral is needed. For more information and help visit www.pieta.ie.

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