World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide and self harm are everybody’s business!

September 10th 2010 is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Read this article to find out what help is available at the University of Glamorgan.

man with hand over face

Suicide and self harm are important issues in Wales. They affect people of all ages, young and old, male and female. They affect families, friends and whole communities. Every suicide is a life and family member lost. For those left behind, suicide leaves a wound that does not easily heal. It is one of the highest causes of death among young people.

Far more people harm themselves than die by suicide. For many people, harming themselves is a way of coping with problems and memories of difficult things that have happened to them. When people harm themselves it shows that they have a lot of emotional pain to cope with. Some people who harm themselves will die by suicide.

Helping people who harm themselves will help them to cope with their pain and will help to stop some of them from dying by suicide. Preventing suicide and reducing the number of people who harm themselves is an important issue which the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) considers needs a Wales-wide approach and so they have developed a national plan to reduce suicide and self harm: Talk to me: The National Action Plan to Reduce Suicide and Self Harm in Wales, 2009-2014.

Suicide and self harm in Wales – the facts

The most up-to-date statistics show that between 1996 and 2006, around 300 people in Wales died each year as a result of suicide. Within this figure, rates vary between ages, men and women and local areas. Suicide is one of the highest causes of death among young people in Wales. There are roughly twice as many deaths in people of all ages each year as a result of suicide than due to road traffic accidents.

At least 6,000 people are taken into hospital each year because they have harmed themselves. In reality, the number of people who harm themselves is probably much higher than this figure, as many people who harm themselves are treated as outpatients or do not ask for help. Self harm is common in young people. It can be a way of coping with difficult emotional problems.

The National Action Plan looks at things that make people consider suicide or harming themselves, such as:

  • relationship problems
  • losing their job
  • difficulties at work, school or college
  • being bullied or feeling like an outsider
  • problems with alcohol and/or drugs
  • having a serious physical or mental illness.

The things in this list can affect anyone. But some people are more likely to be affected by these things, including young men and women, people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, and people from ethnic minorities. There is a real need to provide more help to people who show signs of suicidal thoughts or harming themselves. This support needs to be non-judgemental and readily available. The stigma linked with emotional distress and unhappiness, particularly in young men, should be removed. People must be encouraged to talk openly about their problems and feelings.

We are committed to making the University of Glamorgan a mentally healthy environment for students, staff and visitors. The University has a Mental Health Policy and wishes to contribute to WAG’s commitments to reduce suicide and self harm by:

  • Helping people feel good about themselves by:
    • encouraging students to talk openly about their problems and feelings. They can do this by using the Mental Wellbeing Service or the Student Counselling Service.
    • helping to reduce the embarrassment linked with emotional problems and mental illness by encouraging emotional intelligence in Glamorgan students
    • helping to develop a healthy university for students and staff
    • improving awareness and understanding of mental health, suicide and self harm among the students and staff.
  • Ensuring early action is taken by:
    • encouraging students to ask for help as soon as they are feeling stressed, considering harming themselves or having suicidal thoughts
    • providing good quality student support services
    • making it easy to get information about how to get help
    • helping students with drug and alcohol problems, depression and other mental health problems through the Mental Wellbeing Service and the Student Counselling Service
    • liaising with specialist services in the community to help students in need.
  • Responding to crises in students’ lives by:
    • making sure students know about the Mental Wellbeing Service and how to access it
    • improving staff understanding and responses to people who harm themselves and the things that make people vulnerable like being lonely or bullied because of their sexuality, race or disability
    • monitoring our services to ensure they are meeting students’ needs.
  • Dealing with the effects of suicide and self harm by:
    • offering support to any students who have lost someone to suicide, through the Student Counselling Service
    • offering support to students who are coping with the distress of a friend or family member harming, or talking about harming, themselves through the Student Counselling Service
    • providing support to any staff affected by someone’s suicide through the Staff Counselling Service.
  • Improving information by:
    • making sure information about suicide and self harm is available to students
    • putting information on Glamlife encouraging people to ask for help.
  • Encouraging sensitive reporting on mental health and suicide by:
    • encouraging the University and Students’ Union media to deliver positive mental health messages.

Useful links

  • Desperate right now? – information from the Students Against Depression website, focusing on understanding and surviving suicidal thoughts
  • Support for friends – advice from PAPYRUS if you are worried about a friend who is feeling suicidal