The impact of suicide on the family and wider community is vast. Furthermore, the cost of suicide to the economy is estimated to be billions of pounds a year. However, the fact that suicide attempts far outnumber completed suicides gives us some hope that there are factors at work in protecting against it.
There are things we can do ourselves. Psychologically we can protect ourselves from the risk of suicide by developing resilience (being able to cope with, and adjust to stressful life events), self-confidence, self-worth, effective problem-solving skills, and help-seeking behaviour. Adopting a healthier lifestyle such as a good diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, and abstinence from smoking and illicit drugs can also lower our risk of suicide. Furthermore, religion and social integration, maintenance of good relationships, support from others and access to healthcare can all protect us from suicide and reduce the likelihood that we will attempt it again.
There are also measures that others can take such as restricting access to dangerous methods, using campaigns which promote positive physical and mental health (thereby reducing stigmatisation of the latter and suicide), as well portraying a responsible depiction of suicide in the media, and encouraging help-seeking behaviour.
It is estimated that more than half of those who commit suicide were seen by a primary care physician within the month before their death. Therefore another key preventative measure is early identification, particularly diagnosis and effective treatment of those with psychiatric or substance-related disorders.
If you would like to talk to someone about how you feel, please contact your local First Psychology Centre to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners: