PEOPLE from Devon with personal experience of suicide have written letters to others who may be thinking about ending their lives, as part of World Suicide Prevention Day today, Sunday, September 10. The theme for this year is ‘creating hope through action’.
Around 100 people take their own life in Devon every year, the majority of whom have had no contact with mental health services.
The Letter of Hope is written by adults for other adults, the Letter for Tomorrow is written by young people for other young people.
Both letters are intended to provide hope and encouragement to people who are facing difficult times.
The letters are available in multiple formats, including audio, and have been produced by Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT) and Recovery Devon, along with a group of people who have personal experience of suicide.
Astro is a young person who has mental health issues and has struggled with thoughts of suicide.
They say: 'If the Letter for Tomorrow saves just one life then it will have been incredibly worthwhile.
'Anyone who has ever experienced thoughts of taking their own life will know that it feels like a very dark and lonely place and, at that moment, suicide seems like the only way of taking away the pain.
'Those of us that have survived know that tomorrow can bring hope and better times – and the belief that life can be worth living again.'
Marie has been actively involved in producing the Letter of Hope and has a long history of mental health issues.
She says: 'It was a very emotional experience for those of us who wrote the letter.
'Each of us knows what it is like to feel that our options have run out and that suicide is the only answer – not just for us but also to ease the burden on the ones we love.
'Most of us have had those feelings on multiple occasions and some of us have put our thoughts into action and attempted suicide.
'Thankfully, we have all come through the ordeal and now we want to let others know that we understand their pain; that we care about them even though we don’t know them; that life can be good again and that support is available.'
George Adams, from DPT’s Safe from Suicide Team, says: 'These letters support the theme of this year’s Word Suicide Prevention Day, which is about creating hope through action.
'All of the co-authors have experienced suicidal thinking and know what it is like to feel that taking their own life is the only solution – but they have survived and want to help others to do the same.
'Speaking to someone about how you are feeling is often the most important step, although we know it can be a very difficult one to take. Similarly, if you think a friend or loved one may be considering suicide, then talking to them can be a breakthrough moment.'
If you are feeling suicidal you can:
- Ring the Samaritans on FREEPHONE 116 123
- Tell a trusted person how you are feeling
- Contact Mental Health Matters on 0800 470 0317.
Some statistics on suicide:
United Kingdom statistics
Every week approximately 120 people die by suicide
1 in 5 people in the UK have suicidal thoughts and 1 in 20 will attempt suicide
In England and Wales at least 140,000 people go to hospital each year having attempted suicide
Suicide is the leading cause of death for people under 35
Suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged 35-49
27% of all people who took their own lives were known to mental health services in the last year
73% of suicides were by people not known to mental health services, which is why suicide prevention is everybody's business
Devon rates slightly above the national average in terms of the overall rate of suicide
(12.5 people per 100,000 compared to 10.4 people per 100,000 nationally)
Torbay rates are significantly and consistently higher than the national average
(17.2 people per 100,000)