Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, with September 10th being World Suicide Prevention Day.

In September, organisations worldwide work to raise awareness for suicide, how to talk about it, and how to get help. Organisations and communities come together with the goal of creating a world where fewer people die by suicide. This month, in particular, organisations ask governments in the UK and Ireland to make suicide prevention a priority.

World Suicide Prevention Day, first started in 2003, is annually held on September 10th each year as an IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain) initiative. WHO (World Health Organisation) co-sponsors this event. World Suicide Prevention Day aims to:

  • Raise awareness that suicide is preventable.
  • Improve education about suicide.
  • Spread information about suicide awareness.
  • Decrease stigmatisation regarding suicide.

WHO and IASP work with governments and other partners to ensure that suicide is no longer stigmatised, criminalised or penalised. WHO's role is to build political action and leadership to develop national responses to prevent suicide.

Although the importance of mental health discussions has become more prevalent since the COVID-19 pandemic, and access to mental health tools is slowly improving, suicide still remains a difficult topic for many to discuss. 

Struggling and not being OK is still widely stigmatised by many, and governments should be making more ambitious plans to prevent suicide.

It has, and always will be, our mission at MESOA to raise awareness of male mental health and normalise the conversation surrounding it.

That's why we created the MESOA Community on our website. It is a safe, non-judgmental place for men to share their stories in the hope that it helps them and other men. By opening up and realising that others have gone through similar experiences, we hope it can help even a small number of men seek the help they need.

We're on a mission to empower men and change the lives of as many of those out there who are struggling as possible.

125 lives are lost every week to suicide in the UK, with it being the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, and 75% of all UK suicides are male. In 2018, more than 6,800 people died by suicide in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. 

Throughout a lifetime:

  • 1 in 5 people have suicidal thoughts
  • 1 in 14 people self-harm
  • 1 in 15 people attempt suicide
  • Women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and make suicide attempts than men. But men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Burden of Disease study estimate that almost 800,000 people die from suicide yearly. That's one person every 40 seconds. For every suicide, many more attempt suicide or have serious suicidal ideation. 

Many complexities come with suicide, and there isn't a single explanation of why someone might commit suicide. But here are some risk factors to look out for:

  • Previous suicide attempts or previous self-harm. Many people who self-harm don't want to die. However, research shows that people who self-harm are at higher risk of attempting or dying by suicide
  • Unemployment
  • Physical health problems, including chronic pain
  • Living alone and/or loneliness
  • Dependence on alcohol and/or drugs
  • Experiencing mental health problems like depression or bipolar disorder
  • Money struggles
  • Stress
  • Death of a loved one
  • Struggles with identity 

For many, the subject of suicide can seem overwhelming, and you might not feel you have the best answers or responses. But often, it's usually best to listen and respond with open questions, rather than advice or opinions, if a friend, colleague, or family member does open up to you. Offer support and encourage them to talk if you can; you don't have to single-handedly solve their problems. 

Some of the signs you can look out for in others - or in yourself - which may indicate there is a suicide risk includes:

  • Feeling hopeless or trapped
  • Being tearful, anxious, or overwhelmed by negative thoughts
  • Experiencing feelings of desperation
  • The temptation to do risky or reckless things because they/you don't care what happens to them/you
  • Avoiding other people

If you're worried about approaching someone you think might be struggling with suicidal thoughts, remember that asking someone if they're suicidal won't make things worse, and evidence shows it could protect them.

It's important to take someone seriously if they tell you they are having suicidal thoughts. Being there to listen and showing them you care is what's impactful; you don't have to be an expert to help get them through what's happening. Let them know they're not a burden and there's always someone they can turn to.

Getting through to a person when they are feeling suicidal might feel hard, and you might notice they become distant or distracted. Asking someone directly if they're having suicidal thoughts gives them permission to tell you how they feel.

Asking someone about suicidal thoughts could save a life. 

Here are some tips on how to open up a conversation with someone you're worried about: 

  • Find somewhere without distractions
  • Use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer
  • 'How are things, I've noticed you don't seem quite yourself?'
  • Listen well. 'How's that making you feel?'
  • Avoid giving your view of what's wrong or what they should do

And don't worry, It's normal to feel anxious. Avoid saying things like 'you're not thinking of doing something stupid, are you?'. Being patient and showing you care builds trust and helps someone to open up.

You could ask:

  • Have you thought about ending your life?
  • Are you saying that you want to die?
  • Are you thinking of ending your life because you want to be dead, or do you want the situation you're in or the way you feel to stop?

Help is available for anyone thinking about suicide or to support those trying to help someone thinking about suicide. Information and support is out there.

This includes:

  • Samaritans. To talk about anything upsetting, anyone can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email or visit some branches in person.
  • SANEline. If someone is experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, they can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30 pm–10.30 pm every day)
  • National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK. Offers a supportive listening service to anyone thinking of suicide. Anyone can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652 (open 24/7)
  • PapyrusPapyrus support people under 35 who have thoughts of suicide and others who are concerned about them. They can be contacted on their HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text on 07860 039967, or email at They're open every day from 9 am to midnight.
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) has a helpline (5 pm-midnight) and webchat for anyone having a tough time and needing to talk.

People who have been suicidal have often said it is a relief to talk about thoughts they are experiencing. Just being there to listen and showing you care can help. If they want to speak to someone else about their feelings, they can call organisations like Samaritans.

"Creating hope Through Action."

"Creating hope through action" is the triennial theme for World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021 - 2023. It is a reminder there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us.

By creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them. It also suggests that our efforts may provide hope to those struggling, no matter how big or small. 

Finally, it highlights the importance of setting suicide prevention as a priority public health agenda by countries worldwide. Building on this theme and spreading this message over the three years, a world can be envisioned where suicides are not so prevalent.

We can all play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide, whether as members of society, as a child, as parents, friends, colleagues or as people with lived experience. We can all encourage understanding about the issue, help those struggling, and share our experiences. 

We can all create hope through action and be the light.