Preventing suicide - how you can help

In support of World Suicide Prevention Day (10th September), Counselling Directory has teamed up with counsellor Julie Newberry to offer advice and hopefully help reduce this number.

This year World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is especially poignant as it marks the release of the World Suicide Report by the World Health Organisation entitled, 'Preventing Suicide: A global imperative.' This report follows the adoption of the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, which aims to reduce the rate of suicide in countries by 10% by 2020.

What WSPD looks to do to support these campaigns is bring up what is often perceived as a ‘difficult’ topic. Having suicidal thoughts is an incredibly scary experience, and for many it becomes a taboo subject. Despite this sense of taboo and secrecy, talking about suicidal thoughts is perhaps the best way we can help prevent suicide.

Julie Newberry is a Hampshire based counsellor who has experience working with people contemplating suicide.

"I find that those with suicidal thoughts often have one of three beliefs:

1. there is no way out of my problem

2. there is no point to my existence

3. there is no future to look forward to.

In my experience all of the above can be talked through; sometimes with great pain, but always with good effect. People ask, 'why does just talking help?' as a therapist I would rephrase the question as 'why does listening help?'"

If you are worried that someone you know is feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts, you may think it's best to keep quiet until the person opens up to you. Sadly this may never happen. By bringing the topic up, you could in fact help save a life.

"To ask the question can remove the burden from the person with suicidal thoughts who may be unable to broach the subject themselves. Amongst other things they may feel too ashamed, distressed, frightened and confused.

"A reasonable approach is to ask 'do you feel so low that you have thought about dying?' very often they will respond with 'oh no, I don't feel that bad' and then you can discuss how they do feel. However if they do have suicidal thoughts it gives them permission to talk in the knowledge that you are open to hearing what they have to say," says Julie.

This is an integral first step in preventing suicide, however it is important that those experiencing such thoughts seek professional help. A doctor or counsellor will have the necessary skills to help the person in need work through their problems. Within counselling a variety of techniques will be used to help alter the client's perspective and reduce suicidal feelings. Julie eloquently sums up the part counsellors play in the prevention of suicide:

“My role is to help clients to help themselves; to help them like and value themselves more and to recognise that they are able to offer far more to others than they realise.”

How can I show my support for World Suicide Prevention Day?

This year, WSPD is asking everyone to light a candle near a window at 8:00PM on Wednesday 10th September. In addition to raising awareness, this small token helps us to remember loved ones and survivors of suicide. Find out how else you can show your support on the official World Suicide Prevention Day website.

Notes to editors

*Statistic sourced from WSPD site.

For further information, quotes or interviews, please contact Emma Hilton:


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Written by Katherine Nicholls

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