Harrowing statistics on UK suicide rates were given a human face in a BBC Panorama documentary featuring the heartbreaking story of Callie Lewis who sadly took her own life in 2018.

Callie was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at a young age and struggled with chronic depression and suicidal thoughts. She was one of 6,507 people who committed suicide in the UK in 2018, a 12% rise on the previous year according to statistics from the Office for National Statistics1.

Sue Burke, clinical standards manager at BHSF, underlines that help is out there for those with suicidal thoughts.

“People don’t have to struggle with their feelings alone. There are free phone lines to help if someone is feeling down or desperate. There isn’t a right or wrong way to talk about a person’s feelings. Starting the conversation is more important.

“If people are having thoughts on ending their own life, they should focus on getting through the day rather than thinking about the future. Aim to be around other people. Spending time with a pet, watching a film/TV or exercising are just some of the ways people can distract themselves.”

Worrying trends show that men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women2 and only a third of men refer themselves to psychological therapies3. Sue explains why men may consider taking their own life and who else is at risk.

“Reasons can range from family breakdowns, divorce and social expectations about masculinity. People who live in more deprived areas – where there is less access for instance to services, work and education are also more at risk of suicide4.”

If you are concerned about someone, there are services to help but Sue quickly emphasises that family and friends can be just as important in providing support.

“Try to get them to talk and ask direct questions like ‘how do you feel?’ Just listening to someone can be really useful and shows you care. Get an understanding of how they feel and reassure them this feeling will not last forever. Encourage them to get professional help they are comfortable with and be non-judgemental.”

Callie’s story can be viewed here.

1 – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/sep/03/suicides-rates-in-uk-increase-to-highest-level-since-2002

2 and 4- https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/whoismostatriskofsuicide/2017-09-07

3 – https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/key-data-mental-health