Glasgow City Council

Glasgow Choose Life Campaign Supports Suicide Prevention Week

Published: 4 September, 2017

Read between the lines - that's the message Glasgow City Choose Life is sending out to people in Glasgow to mark this year's Suicide Prevention Week, which runs from Monday, September 4 to Friday, September 10.

Last year 91 people in Glasgow took their own lives, which can have a long lasting and devastating emotional impact on bereaved families, friends and communities. 

The economic and social cost of a suicide has been estimated a figure of £1.5 million per individual and the ripple effect on families, friends and communities adds another dimension which would increase this figure dramatically.

The Choose Life campaign is asking everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them.   The signs of suicide can can be difficult to spot, but people are being encouraged to take all signs of distress seriously, even if it seems a person is living a normal life. 

If you are worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, then asking that person about what's troubling them can make a positive difference.  Asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.

Pauline Toner, Choose Life Co-ordinator in Glasgow City, 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.

"If you ask someone 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 Glasgow, Choose Life is making widely available key message cards, posters and booklets such as Read Between the Lines and 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. During 2017 Suicide Prevention Week, activities in Glasgow include a neighbourhood meeting in Drumchapel, articles in housing association newsletters, information stalls in Buchanan Galleries, and Morrisons in Easterhouse on September 8th and in Central Station on 6th September. 

Suicide awareness briefings are also being delivered to a range of organisations throughout the week, including briefings to construction workers with Robertson Construction Company.

On September 8th the annual Celebration of Life event takes place again in the Tranquillity Garden at Campbell House in Gartnavel Hospital between 12 and 2. This event invites anyone touched by suicide to come together to honour loved ones lost by suicide and to celebrate their lives.

In the past year on-going, annual training has been delivered to over  600 people across the public and voluntary sector. There have also been increasing requests for suicide prevention awareness briefings and training from the private sector. Choose Life has been working with the banking sector, including call centre staff at Lloyds Banking Group which was positively received.

A spokesperson for Lloyds Banking Group said: "Colleagues in Lloyds Banking Group received suicide prevention training recently, which has helped staff to support vulnerable customers."

Pauline added: "We have also been approached by two large construction companies working in the city and will be delivering briefings to construction workers in their canteens during Suicide Prevention Week. We know that men are three times more likely to complete suicide than women and that this is even higher for manual workers."

The chief operating officer from the Robertson Group, Derek Shewan said: "We feel it is extremely important to support Suicide Prevention Week in Glasgow, and have organised suicide awareness briefings from Choose Life for our construction workers at four of our sites across the city.

"Initiatives such as this are invaluable in starting conversations about mental health - an issue which has gained prominence in the construction sector in recent years. Major surveys show that over half of the industry workforce have experienced mental health problems at some point. These are alarming figures, but the reality is that this problem has always existed and only now are we realising the true scale.

"In construction, people are our business and we have a duty of care to understand the impact of mental health issues, both at home and in the workplace. As an industry, we are ready to tackle this but it will take a wider societal approach to remove the stigma associated with poor mental health."

Targeted suicide prevention training has also this year been delivered to housing association staff, including local housing officers and concierges. Working to improve links with housing associations across the city is on-going.

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

If you are living in Glasgow and worried about someone you can get information and advice on sources of support at any time by visiting the local web page:-

https://www.yoursupportglasgow.org/chooselife.aspx

If you or anyone close to you is struggling with issues of suicide, please seek help, either from your general practitioner or through sources of help such as the Samaritans (call free on 116 123 or by email at jo@samaritans.org) or Breathing Space (call free on 0800 83 85 87).

Published: 4 September, 2017

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