Most people have no idea about the numbers of people who die by suicide every year in the UK, a survey for World Suicide Prevention Day has revealed today.

Of those who took part in the YouGov survey for the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA), 91% either under or overestimated how many people take their own lives each year in the UK, or simply didn’t know. Between 6,000 and 7,000 people die by suicide every year, that’s someone dying by suicide every 90 minutes, so it’s vital that we raise awareness and save lives.

The NSPA (of which BACP is a member) is asking everyone to Take a Minute to Change A Life for World Suicide Prevention Day. The organisation’s 160 members and supporters (including BACP, along with Samaritans, MIND, Rethink Mental Illness, CALM, STORM and Network Rail) will be working together to galvanise action across the country to make suicide prevention a priority in the run up to the day on Sunday 10 September.

The YouGov survey also found that over a quarter of people who responded (26%) said that not knowing what to do and/or feeling worried that talking about suicide would increase the risk of it happening, would prevent them reaching out to someone.

The NSPA wants to change this by getting people to take simple actions to connect with others* on World Suicide Prevention Day, and by showing how easy it can be to make a difference.

Former England captain and Rugby League player Danny Sculthorpe said: “I felt suicidal after my back injury brought my playing career to an end. I lost my job, I felt I couldn’t support my family, and we lost our house. I felt as if I wanted to take my own life.

“It is hard for men to speak about how they feel. My mum and dad and my wife had noticed a change in my behaviour and got me to talk about how I was feeling. Their calling me out saved my life. It was the best thing I ever did. Speaking out is a strength, not a weakness.”

For five years Danny has been a trainer for NSPA member State of Mind, helping players, fans and businesses develop coping mechanisms and mental fitness. “I love it, helping other people makes me feel good,” he said.

Tracy, 28, was in the process of taking her own life when her friend Jade held on to her and talked to her. She was able to help her to change her mind. “Jade saved my life,” said Tracey. “It was a pivotal moment in our relationship.”

Jade said: “Suicide does not end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else.”

Neil Laybourn, who was able to talk to Jonny Benjamin when he was about to make a suicide attempt, and convince him to get help, said: “Jonny was clearly in a lot of pain but I was able to talk to him and get his attention. Once I had done that – it only took a minute – I was able to keep talking to him and persuade him to move out of danger.

Chair of BACP, Dr Andrew Reeves, says: “While people can live with thoughts about suicide for a long time, for many such thoughts may be more temporary, even if someone has been feeling low, anxious or struggling to cope for a long time.

“This is why getting the right kind of support at the right time is so important, and is one of the reasons why BACP is a member of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance.

“Many BACP members volunteer for Samaritans and understand the vital role that offering support can play in combatting suicide; both in their time as volunteers, and in their day to day work as therapists.

“Counsellors and psychotherapists understand that many kinds of emotional pain can lead to thoughts of suicide. The pain may mean that a person reaches a point where they feel they can no longer cope – they may not truly wish to die, but need help to cope at that moment. Therapy can help by allowing the sharing of thoughts and feelings, and working on ways to transform negative thoughts into more positive ones.”

Co-Chair of the NSPA Ruth Sutherland said: “The results of the survey underline the fact that many people don’t realise the numbers of suicides in the UK, and aren’t confident in talking about it. Suicide is everybody’s business and this is why the NSPA hopes to raise awareness of simple actions we can take in order to reach out to others, while campaigning for effective suicide prevention."


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Notes to editors

*Make a mate a cup of tea; Give a friend you are thinking about a call/drop them a text; Ask someone if they are doing okay; Find out more about what you could say to someone who is struggling; Watch a video about someone else’s experience on the NSPA website; Take action as part of a campaign; Invite a mate to join you for a walk or a run; Connect with someone from a different generation and ask them for advice; Like a friend’s cooking? Ask them to share a recipe.

BACP is the leading professional body for counselling in the UK. Our primary purpose is to support counsellors and help them better serve their clients. Our Association was formed nearly 40 years ago by a group of counsellors who were passionate about the value of counselling and its potential to improve the lives of individuals and communities. This passion and commitment, and the knowledge that counselling changes lives, are still at the heart of everything we do.

  • The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) is a cross-sector, England-wide coalition committed to reducing the number of suicides in England, and improving support for those bereaved or affected by suicide.
  • The NSPA is working with more than 160 members and supporters from the public, private and voluntary sectors, who are committed to working towards reducing suicide and providing support for people bereaved by suicide.
  • Rethink Mental Illness and Samaritans jointly co-chair the NSPA. For more details go to
  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2041 adults, of which 1845 opted in to the survey. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th - 25th August 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).