By Carla Buscema
The National suicide prevention strategy, Choose Life, is working close to universities and colleges this week during Fresher’s in South Ayrshire to raise awareness of suicide prevention among young people.
Fiona Longmuir, a Primary Care Mental Health nurse and Choose Life coordinator, said that they have been participating in fresher’s week and events in colleges and universities to make sure that students know that there is support and a number of services available to them during this week and in the future, especially those who moved in from other areas and need to be registered with a doctor.
The current campaign called ‘read between the lines’ calls on everyone to recognise the alerting signs of suicide among friends, colleagues and family members.
Fiona said: “It is a difficult and very sensible subject, but if someone is not alright, then ask them how they are feeling, ask them if they are thinking about suicide and by doing that you could be saving their life. Asking about suicide won’t put in someone’s head or make it more likely that they will commit suicide. In fact, a lot of people describe that they feel relieved that they have been asked about it. The best thing you can do is listen.”
We also spoke to Heather Ward, an advice worker at the University of the West of Scotland and she told us: “A lot of times students come to us and they have financial or academic worries. One of the questions I always ask is if there is anything going on in their life that we can help with and then students disclose some horrible situations, life experiences they are going through and that is affecting their mental health. I always let them know about the councillor services that we offer and about our silver cloud data base where students can get tips and advice on how to manage their mental health.”
The Scottish government set a plan to reduce suicide by 20% in the next 5 years. The plan highlights the need of national and local agencies to work together to improve how people think and behave about suicide and, according to some statistics from the Scottish Health Observatory and the National Records for Scotland (NRS), there were 680 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2017, compared to 728 in 2016.
Mental Health Minister, Clare Haughey, said: “Every life matters and no death by suicide should be regarded as either acceptable or inevitable. Over the past decade, Scotland has made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide, but we want to go further. Our view is that suicide is preventable, and where anyone contemplating suicide or who has lost a loved one to suicide should get the support they need.”