A note from Chukumeka Maxwell of Orchid Community & Associates:

September, as the start of a new academic year can feel like a time of new beginnings.  It is also the month of  World Suicide Prevention Day.  Suicide is a global issue that on average takes a person’s life every 40 seconds. Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide, approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected amounting to 108 million per year (IASP, 2018). Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages(WSPD2019). This year the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is ‘Working Together‘. It has been retained for this year and 2020. There  has been a flurry of activity since last year’s World Suicide Prevent Day 2018 in the UK and internationally . 

On the 10th of October last year 2018 World Mental Health Day, the UK became the first country to have a Suicide Prevention Minister. Mrs Doyle-Price, became the minister for mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention.  

Official data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for 2017 suicide registrations showed that the suicide rate in England has reduced for the third consecutive year and is at its lowest for seven years (1). However  anecdotally for this year 2018 the figures may rise and at the time of writing this the 2018 figures have been released showing a 11.2% rise in total . This means our call to action is even more important.

Compared with the previous year, males aged 20 to 24 years saw a significant increase of 31% from 12.9 deaths per 100,000 males in 2017 (279 deaths) to 16.9 in 2018 (363 deaths). Following a significant reduction in their suicide rate between 2016 and 2017, there was also a significant increase for males aged 80 to 84 years from 9.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2017 (65 deaths) to 17.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2018 (126 deaths), with the latest suicide rate returning to previously observed levels (ONS 2018).

In June 2019, the The “ASK” Workshop was brought to the UK, delivered by Lifeline Workshops Inc. This comes at the same time as the government announces more to be done to tackle mental health and suicide, including training for teachers, university staff and NHS staff.   

This September in the two weeks after WSPD2019  there will be two big events. Firstly the 30th World Congress Suicide Prevention Congress  in Londonderry ,with delegates from all around the world and hosted  by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. The theme is “Breaking Down Walls & Building Bridges” . Secondly, the  the 8th International Suicide bereavement Conference themed ‘Suicide Bereavement: What About Us?’

Further developments are also planned  in collaboration with others . We are looking to share a Map of Hope  which highlights the people trained in two of the suicide prevention courses by Licensed Livingworks Trainers . This is to engender conversations around suicide and a pictorial representation of people trained in a given area.

We are also looking at developing Suicide Safer Towns ,Cities,Schools ,Workplaces and Communities. Suicide Prevention is definitely ‘everybody’s business’,  whatever our professional line of work or in our private life We can all do something to help  to reduce the amount of suicides by “working together” for the benefit of all So let’s keep that 2020 vision going in the coming year. If you want to help find out what you can do ,search for Suicide Prevention resources in your local area.  Look at the National Suicide Prevention Alliance Website    Loook out for national and local charities especially for young people  Think and Act  globally ,  digitally and  locally wherever you find yourselves. Working together can and will end suicide.