This story was published 5 September 2017

“It’s OK to talk” – that’s the message behind this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, the annual campaign to encourage everyone to reach out and connect with others to help to prevent suicide.

World Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Days falls on 10 September. It is an international day of awareness- raising to show that suicide can be prevented.

North Yorkshire County Council is supporting the day as part of its commitment to encourage organisations and individuals to work together to reduce the suicide rates in their communities. More than 800,000 people take their own lives each year across the world and in the UK, on average, 16 people take their own lives each day.

Last year the County Council and its partners undertook a suicide prevention audit which identified a number of recommendations, including improved bereavement support, training programmes, further information gathering and supporting individuals affected by suicide.

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, executive member for public health, said: “People who are feeling low or suicidal can feel that no one cares. A suicidal period often only lasts a short time and it doesn’t have to take a huge amount to help to move someone through it.

“It can seem daunting to approach someone who is struggling with suicidal feeling. However, you don’t need to be an expert – just asking if someone is OK and letting them know you are there to listen can make a big difference. For example, The Samaritans recommend asking open questions such as ‘Tell me about...’ or ‘How do you feel about…’ and helping people to focus on their feelings rather than trying to solve their problems.

“Encouraging people to talk about mental health and share their concerns reflects some of the recommendations that came out of our suicide prevention audit. These recommendations are being implemented as part of our mental health strategy called Hope, Control and Choice. This strategy sets out our vision and priorities for county-wide mental health services, created in collaboration with users of those services.”

The County Council is working with Scarborough Survivors, a mental health group, to tackle mental health stigma and encourage county residents to open up about mental health. Scarborough Survivors is holding an open day at their Resource Centre at 9 Alma Square, Scarborough, on 10 September to mark World Suicide Prevention Day with the theme “No conversation is too hard”. Everyone is welcome to visit the centre.

Help and support is also available 24 hours a day from The Samaritans on their free telephone line 116 123.