A new campaign to help prevent suicide in the city has been launched today (16 May), at the start of Mental Health Awareness week. In Brighton & Hove, the council’s Public Health team is working with Brighton-based charity Grassroots Suicide Prevention and Brighton, Hove and District Samaritans to raise awareness about male suicide rates and the services available to those in need.
Young and middle aged men are roughly three times more likely to take their own lives than women. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under-49 in the UK, with 76 per cent of all suicides in 2014 being men (ONS, NISRA, GRO 2014). Figures show that 1 in 40 think about suicide over the course of a year. Locally Brighton & Hove has had a higher rate of deaths by suicide than the national average for more than a century. Current rates are the ninth highest among local authority areas in England; Brighton & Hove is ranked 136 of 144 local authorities.
The new campaign focuses on encouraging male friends to look out for each other. The aim is to foster open and direct conversations about any concerns, including thoughts of suicide.
Cllr Caroline Penn, lead councillor for mental health, undertook the suicide awareness training course “safeTalk” run by Grassroots Suicide Prevention.
Cllr Penn said: “The course taught me that we can all play our part in supporting those experiencing suicidal thoughts. If we talk and most importantly listen, we can work together to keep our friends, family and community safe. For anyone worried about someone they know, there is help out there through the Samaritans, Mental Health Rapid Response Service and the #StayAlive App.”
Across the city, support is available from a range of groups, details are below. Grassroots works in the community, teaching suicide prevention skills to organisations and individuals, with the vision that no one should have to contemplate suicide alone. Miranda Frost, Grassroots chief executive officer, said: “We firmly believe that open, direct and honest conversations about suicide are the key to its prevention. We hope this campaign will encourage people to check in with their male friends and be prepared to offer help if someone is thinking about suicide. Together we can help Brighton & Hove become safer from suicide.”
Miranda Frost, Grassroots chief executive officer, said: “We firmly believe that open, direct and honest conversations about suicide are the key to its prevention. We hope this campaign will encourage people to check in with their male friends and be prepared to offer help if someone is thinking about suicide. Together we can help Brighton & Hove become safer from suicide.”
Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper David Stockdale is supporting the campaign by joining in with the #OKselfie, a social media campaign which is growing in popularity. David said: “We can all help by just talking. I'm supporting the #OKselfie, all you need to do is ask ‘you alright, mate’?” The #OKselfie raises awareness of the importance of speaking out and being open about suicide by people taking a photo of themselves making the OK symbol then posting their picture online using #OKselfie.
People are encouraged to look out for campaign information around the city about how to be open, direct and honest when talking about suicide. Have a look at Grassroots' website for more details about the campaign.
Daniel Cheesman, Director Brighton, Hove & District Samaritans, said: "We are really enthusiastic about working in partnership on this campaign as it is essential that we continue to find ways of encouraging men to talk about their feelings and reach out for help. We need to get the message out there that it is okay to talk about suicide and this campaign is just one of the ways that we are doing that."
Grassroots Suicide Prevention - mobile phone app #StayAlive, www.prevent-suicide.org.uk/find_help
Samaritans - 24 hours confidential emotional support for anyone. Freephone number 116 123, this number does not show up on phone bills and is free to call from landlines and mobiles, including pay-as-you-go mobiles. Email email@example.com
MHRRS – Mental Health Rapid Response Service for anyone who is in danger of harming themselves or others: 01273 242220. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. www.gp.brightonandhoveccg.nhs.uk/mental-health
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) – local support group each Monday: http://uk-sobs.org.uk/support-group/brighton/ or ring Paula on 07593 893 867.
Survivors of Suicide – for Brighton & Hove residents aged 18 and over who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or those bereaved by suicide: 01273 709060 or www.rethink.org/services-groups/services/survivors-of-suicide-sos-brighton-hove