Today, Friday 10 September 2021, is World Suicide Prevention Day; a day dedicated to raising awareness about, and taking action to prevent, suicide.
More than 700,000 people die by suicide every year worldwide. In 2019, there were 5,691 suicides in England and Wales. This is far too many. Every single one of those lives lost is a deep tragedy in its own right, and each death can send shockwaves through families, friendship groups and communities. A recent study concluded that up to 135 people can be affected by one suicide, with between 15 and 30 being severely affected. There is no doubt that suicide is a public health issue. It is also worth remembering that for every suicide, there are many more individuals who have attempted to end their lives.
At Penningtons Manches Cooper, we work with many clients who have sustained life changing physical and psychiatric injuries due to negligence. Studies have shown that injury survivors, such as our clients, are at increased risk of suicide. It is certainly not uncommon for injured clients to report to our teams that they are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Whilst the causes of suicide are myriad and complex, certain factors and life events may make people more vulnerable to becoming suicidal, including feeling alone, trapped, or like a burden to those around them.
Those who have sustained life-changing physical injuries are likely to experience a drastic difference in their ability to continue life as they knew it beforehand. Often clients will find themselves relying on those around them much more, and they can be frustrated by their new limitations. Physical pain may also lead to suicidal ideation as an escaping mechanism. These factors can all increase vulnerability to suicide.
We also have many clients who have sustained psychiatric injury, either as the sole injury, or in addition to physical injuries. For some, this is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which results directly from the incident itself, and for others, depressive disorders which may follow in the weeks, months and years after the incident, as a result of their changed circumstances.
The link between suicide and mental health conditions, particularly depression and PTSD, is well established, particularly in high-income countries.
Treatment for those conditions can include medication, talking based therapies (such as counselling, IPT, and CBT), and trauma-focussed therapy (for example, EMDR and trauma-focussed CBT). However, when suicidal thoughts and ideations are at play, more immediate intervention such as crisis teams may be required.
As a team working with clients who are vulnerable to suicide, Penningtons Manches Cooper invests in learning and raising awareness in this area.
Suicide Prevention Day is about increasing public knowledge of all aspects of suicide and getting people to talk about this. There is still some taboo surrounding talking about suicide and, in our view, this does not serve anyone.
If you are suicidal, or supporting someone that is experiencing suicidal ideation, then there are resources out there to help you as well, including this leaflet from Mind.
This year’s international theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Creating hope through action’. Take a moment now to check in on that person you’ve been thinking about.