Every 52 seconds, every day, Samaritans helps a person who is feeling suicidal. Monday 24 July is Samaritan’s Awareness Day, a day which provides all of us with the chance to talk about suicide – still a taboo subject – and to shake off some common misconceptions.
More than 6,000 people die by suicide every year in the UK. Nearly 80% are men and male suicide rates are now at their highest level since 2001.
However, the majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die. They do not want to live the life they have, which is why talking through other options at the right time is so vital.
Often, feeling actively suicidal is 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.
Chair of BACP, Dr Andrew Reeves, says: “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.
“We already know that men are at high risk of suicide across all age groups, but particularly men under 50 – a compelling reason why men should be encouraged to talk through their concerns with a professional counsellor.
“Men have emotional needs in exactly the same way as women: they feel things such as anger, grief, shame, sadness and anxiety in the same way. The difference is men feel the need to keep their emotions secret, adding feelings of shame and isolation to the emotional mix.
“Traditionally, more women than men have sought counselling, and this is in itself not a surprise. The concept of talking about feelings and exploring emotional and psychological difficulties has, for many years, been seen as a ‘female’ rather than ‘male’ trait.
“Thankfully things are beginning to change with more men seeking counselling and seeing it as both a positive and relevant source of help.”
If you're concerned about suicidal thoughts you can contact the Samaritans anytime - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - and the number 116 123 is free to call.
To find a therapist in your area, see our therapist directory.