For some reason, people think you can’t talk about suicide unless you’ve felt suicidal. Similarly, there is huge misconception (quite often) that if anyone speaks about suicide, they themselves are suicidal…the stigma around suicide is one of the main reasons people shy away from talking about it and it’s about time that we started being more open with ourselves and with our minds.
In 2016, 5,668 suicides were recorded in Great Britain. Of these, 75% were male. Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales. NHS well-being surveys show one person in fifteen has made a suicide attempt at some point in their life.
Grassroots is a UK leader in the suicide prevention space known for its pioneering and innovative suicide prevention work. They are known for bringing fresh approaches to suicide prevention including their Stay Alive App and campaigns and they are now launching their Real Talk programme across the UK – the thing that drew me to them.
Grassroots was established in 2006 by a group of individuals who believe passionately in suicide prevention and set out to achieve their vision of suicide safer communities at a time when there was not much of a focus on suicide prevention in the UK.
They believe that suicide can be prevented through open and direct conversations and that everyone can play a role. By destigmatising the language around suicide and by enabling people to talk about their feelings more coherently, Grassroots hope to help those who most need it.
Grassroots’ aim is to get more people talking about suicide in a more open and honest way, to learn the skills and confidence to recognise when a person is struggling and to take action. That’s why they’ve developed Real Talk.
Real Talk is a framework that has evolved in response to the community to get more people talking about suicide. Grassroots believe that suicide is preventable and Real Talk offers an opportunity to open up a conversation that could be lifesaving. One that is open, honest and courageous. Real talk is about a conversation that starts with real people, people like you and me.
Real Talk fills a gap left by training and online tools by going into the heart of communities and connecting with people, supporting them to talk openly about suicide. It is a bite sized programme that can be adapted to fit time, and other constraints in chunks that make sense to the people and places that want to find out more about Real Talk. Real people: people who want to make a difference and who share our ambition to prevent suicide.
Real Talk helps people express themselves. Grassroots are providing the opportunity for people to gain more confidence in talking about suicide and to start feeling comfortable with the language and the feelings that come up. That way they feel more comfortable with the idea of having a conversation. That might be a conversation about another person’s suicidal thoughts or about their own, now or in the future.
It’s really important that people understand how common these thoughts are so that we don’t feel stigmatised and then we can start to break down the fear about talking about suicide. That takes courage- courage that we all have.
That’s when we can start to have real conversations, Real Talk about suicide.
Real talk is honest and straight forward, it is for everyone. It is not academic or clinical, so it uses straight forward everyday language that we all understand. It has simplicity at the heart of its response to another person’s distress.
We can all play a role in preventing suicide: we can all learn the skills and confidence to have a conversation that is potentially life saving
It is a common myth that most people who are suicidal are supported in health care settings but this is simply not true. We know that many people who have suicidal thoughts or who die by suicide do not seek the help of professional. That’s why it is so important that we learn to spot the signs when someone is struggling and that we are ready and willing to have a real conversation; Real Talk about suicide.
We need to get away from the idea that talking about suicide and asking about suicide leads to more suicide..it puts the idea in someone’s head. It does not.
Asking about suicide in a responsible and caring way is an act of compassion and courage. This is about getting people talking, creating a connectedness and optimism that leads to prevention of loss.