It’s world suicide prevention day.
I fucking hate awareness days like these – especially since EVERY day should be suicide prevention day.
Because it’s the biggest killer of men under 50 in the U.K.
That’s right – more men under 50 die by suicide than from cancer or road traffic accidents.
Last year 5,821 people took their own lives in the U.K.
That’s 1 person every 90 minutes. I’d really like you to think about that this weekend when you’re watching your football favourite team.
1 person every 90 minutes.
Last week the BBC told us that deaths by suicide in men had reduced to its lowest level since 1981.
Before we all throw our collective hats in the air in celebration, consider this…
Suicides in young Londoners, aged between 10 and 19, doubled last year – rising by 25% in the rest of the country.
Ordinarily, I’d take some time to explain why I think this is happening.
But I don’t need to, do I?
You already know, don’t you?
What a wonderfully convenient label – a victim blaming assault on our young people that shifts the responsibility from you and me onto them.
A generation where we’ve left many devoid of hope with spiralling university fees, unobtainable mortgages for houses that cost 8 times the average salary, soaring rental prices for those who can’t even dream of the first rung of the property ladder, an astonishingly unequal education system that hinges on the failure of thousands, adding to ever increasing exam stress, zero hour contracts…sorry, Bastard zero hour contracts…a benefits system built on punishment, mistrust, control and fear…We have the jauntily named ‘Universal Credit’ where folk, discarded from their zero hour none-jobs, have to wait 35 days before they get any money.
Think about it – 5 weeks with no money!
And yet we’re told that people use foodbanks for ‘Complex Reasons’.
With the old system people were forced to make the choice between heating and eating…now they can do neither!
Homelessness has grown exponentially…
How do we deal with this home made mental health epidemic? We cut mental health services. Did I say ‘cut’ ? Sorry, we decimate health and social care where there’s little or no joined up services as our young people make that transition into adulthood.
People are desperately trying to get treatment for their mental ill health – rapidly realising they need to tread that precarious tightrope, hoping, often in vane, their mental malady will sit neatly in that ‘Goldilocks’ zone where they’re just the right amount of crazy – a step either side and they, we, don’t get the support we deserve.
Throw a bit of stigma into the mix – ‘attention seeking’, ‘manipulative’, ‘not engaging with services’ and we’ve got a perfect storm…
Oh, and our prisons are bursting at the seams with an ever increasing population of folk with mental health problems – people who need understanding, treatment and support rather than incarceration.
And yet…and yet, we persist with this ridiculous ‘Snowflake’ smear. That insult is nothing short of disgusting.
When we’re asked why our younger people are more stressed, we shrug and give the revoltingly vague response, ‘The Internet…?’
If anything the internet offers information – granted, some of it shonky – forums and support from people with shared experiences. What would you do if you couldn’t get support from anywhere else?
As for the claims that deaths from suicide are reducing in men, I’d suggest you take that with a large pinch of salt.
In 2011, professor David Gunnell suggested that as many as 6% of suicides were being misclassified as accidents as more and more coronors inquests are ending with ‘narrative verdicts’ (increasing from 111 in 2001 to 3012 in 2009).
I’m as surprised as you possibly are – I really thought the process was altogether more scientific.
We are the 6th wealthiest country in the world – the support, care and compassion we give to our most vulnerable people should reflect that.
I make no apologies for my anger here. These are desperate times. I think it’s time to treat each and every suicide with the same anger, despair and indignation we reserve for murder and terrorism. This is a humanitarian crisis of our own making, and it’s the responsibility of all of us to step up to the plate. Care, compassion, empathy and support are not purely the domain of the mental health professional.
I appreciate you may feel anxious about supporting someone with a mental health problem – but don’t let that anxiety turn into inertia. We can all do something.
You can take the first step today by following this link that takes you through some straightforward steps to take when you feel concern for someone’s psychological wellbeing.
Every day is world suicide awareness day.
Walk a Mile