(Trigger Warning) World Suicide Prevention Day 2023

Sunday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day, an opportunity for organisations and communities to start a conversation about suicide, reduce the stigma and offer support to those in need.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in young people under the age of 35 in the UK, according to the charity PAPYRUS. Around three quarters of suicides were male (74%) in 2021. The impact of suicide is devastating. Suicide is preventable, not inevitable, so it’s more important than ever to know that you’re not on your own and that help is out there for anyone struggling.

Anyone, at any age, can experience mental distress and suicidal thoughts. And people can be especially vulnerable to feeling distressed and struggling with suicidal thoughts at times of increased pressure and stress or when they are away from their usual support networks or feeling isolated.

Where to get help

It’s okay to feel how you feel and there’s no shame in speaking up or seeking help, in fact it’s brave. If you or someone you know is struggling, there are lots of people and services to turn to for support. You’re not alone.

In an emergency, whether for yourself or others, always call 999.

If you’re feeling so down that you can’t see a way out, this page on the student intranet has some useful advice on how to get urgent mental health support including ringing NHS 111 or speaking to your GP (doctor). Remember, you can only be registered to one GP, so make sure you register with one near to where you spend most of your time during your studies to get an emergency appointment.

There are also confidential helplines/chat services you can consider contacting if you’d like to speak to a trained professional:

  • Samaritans – a listening service which is open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk.  
  • Papyrus (HOPELINKUK)- a 24/7 confidential service available to anybody under the age of 35 experiencing suicidal thoughts, or anybody concerned that a young person could be thinking of suicide.
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) - CALM's confidential helpline and live chat are open from 5pm to midnight every day.
  • Shout – a free confidential 24/7 text service offering support if you're in crisis and need immediate help.

A reminder that all UoB students (undergraduate and postgraduate) can also reach out to us through UBHeard, our 24/7 confidential listening and support service which gives you immediate emotional and mental health support.

You can also speak to a Wellbeing Officer in your school who can provide you with practical and emotional support. Choose your School to find contact details for your Wellbeing Officer(s).

Starting a conversation with somebody who needs help

Have you noticed a friend acting differently, or a flatmate who seems to be more withdrawn or quiet? It can be hard to know what to do and if there’s  a way you can help.

Research has proven that simply connecting with them, and showing you care by asking questions, or making small talk, can help. There isn’t one simple set of steps to follow, as those struggling with suicidal thoughts have different circumstances and feelings.

They might want to talk about it, or they might not. What you can do, however, is be there for each other and listen when they feel ready to open up. And remember, it’s okay to not know what to say. Sometimes all you can do is be there for them, so know when to seek professional support, whether it’s though calling 999 in emergency cases, or sitting with them while they reach out for support through organisations mentioned above.

Mental Health charity YoungMinds has some helpful advice on supporting a friend who is suicidal.

We’ve also put together some advice on how you can best support a friend who has reached out to you about their mental health.

Helping others can be an emotional experience, so always make sure you have support for yourself too. Our Time to Talk? page has a full list of our support services and resources.

As we head into a new academic year, do look after yourselves and look out for each other. And remember that we’re always here for you during your time at UoB.


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