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Sun, 27 September 2020

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On World Suicide Awareness Day, let’s resolve to tackle the stigma around suicide

On World Suicide Awareness Day, let’s resolve to tackle the stigma around suicide

This pandemic has no doubt had a profound impact on many people’s mental health, writes Ian Levy MP. | PA Images

3 min read

As we return to work, employers must endeavor to provide a safe space for people to discuss their feelings and experiences.

Today is World Suicide Awareness Day, and I was very proud to ask the Prime Minister a question on suicide at PMQs on Wednesday; something that is too often a taboo subject.

This pandemic has no doubt had a profound impact on many people’s mental health, as this is a difficult time for many, and it’s now more important than ever to make sure we keep the conversation on suicide open.

With many feeling isolated or unable to see their families during the pandemic, it’s a tragedy that many have seen suicide as the only way out. To be clear; suicide is never the way out.

Having worked in mental health for over 20 years, I have great experience in looking after many struggling with suicide amongst a plethora of other mental health illnesses. I’ve first-hand seen the devastating and immeasurable impact this has on not only the individual, but also on their loved ones, friends and colleagues.

It’s now more important than ever to make sure we keep the conversation on suicide open

The experience of losing a loved one to suicide is painful and traumatic, with families bereaved by suicide carrying a higher risk of dying by suicide themselves. That is why it’s extremely important to keep those roads of communication open, to prevent further tragedies; there’s nothing we can’t sort out by sitting down, talking and having a cup of tea.

I was saddened to learn that the current rate of suspected suicides across the Tyneside and Northumberland area is 9.1 per 100,000; a rather shocking statistic. This information was given to me by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, a charity who do fantastic work in my Blyth Valley constituency. The Local Mind Network deliver mental health services across the area, and work to provide support to Northumberland residents who have been bereaved by suicide through their offering of specialist bereavement counselling.

We too often find ourselves caught up in the hustles and bustles of both our personal and work lives, and it can often feel easier to shy away from talking to someone about it. There is still a huge stigma around suicide, which can make it difficult to talk about for those affecting; so providing a safe space for people to discuss their feelings and experiences can make a huge difference. In my office I make sure my staff know I am always here for a chat and that I will listen to whatever they wish to share; they know my office door is always open.

As we return back to work, I would encourage all employers to do the same, and make sure their staff feel well-supported; no-one should ever feel as though they’re alone.

 

Ian Levy is the Conservative MP for Blyth Valley.

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