As World Suicide Prevention Day hits its tenth anniversary tomorrow, a University of Manchester expert is aiming to dispel myths on suicide.
Professor Nav Kapur, who leads research at the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Manchester and works at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, hope dispelling the myths will encourage people to seek help.
He claims ‘suicide isn’t inevitable’; just because someone attempts to die, does not mean nothing can be done to prevent it.
He said: “It is surprising that even in this day and age some people still think that if an individual wishes to die by suicide then that is their choice and nothing can be done to prevent it.
“People who feel suicidal are often struggling with overwhelming and intense emotions and may feel that the situation is hopeless and there is no other option.
“However, we know that people can and do recover if they are given the chance and shown understanding and support. People need to be encouraged to seek the appropriate help.
“Self-harm and suicide attempts are sometimes seen as merely attention-seeking behaviour, but they are very real indicators of distress and risk of suicide in the future. Someone who presents to hospital with self-harm is 100 times more likely to die by suicide over the next the next twelve months than someone who hasn’t.”
Friday saw the launch of the government’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, which details steps that can be taken to save lives.
These include limiting access to lethal methods and undertaking research into what makes people feel suicidal.
UK suicide rates have decreased in recent years, with figures from the Office of National Statistics revealing a drop of 67 between 2009 and 2010.
However, the Manchester Evening News revealed in June that Manchester’s suicide rates are among the highest in the UK and are nearly double the national average, with 14.3 people per 100,000 population committing suicide here in 2012.
Professor Kapur said: “There are a variety of potential reasons for the figures in places like Manchester being higher than the national average. For example, social deprivation, a younger population, and high levels of drug and alcohol use.
“What is clear is that action needs to be taken and work is underway to address this issue. Today sees the launch of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy which we will be looking at very carefully in order to recommend what we might do specifically in Manchester to help prevent suicide.”
Councillor Glynn Evans, executive member for adult services at Manchester City Council, said: “I hope World Suicide Prevention Day can help raise awareness of the support available for those suffering or anyone with concerns about a loved one or friend.”
“No one should suffer alone and today highlights that there are people out there to talk to and resources available to anyone who feels they need them.”
Dr Sean Lennon, Medical Director of Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, said: “The Trust is committed to the local implementation of the national strategy to prevent suicide.
"It shares this responsibility with a number of organisations and believes that the strong partnerships between health, local authority, and the voluntary sector in Manchester are essential to the goal of suicide prevention.”
World Suicide Prevention Day is run jointly by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation.
If you or someone you care about is feeling suicidal then help is available. Contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or the Samaritans on 08457 909090.