PEOPLE are being urged to recognise or open up about suicide after new figures showed Cumbria's annual death toll is higher than the national average.
Fifty lives are lost in Cumbria each year to suicide but an updated county strategy is now hoping to reduce that number, says Cumbria County Council.
The new strategy stresses that preventing suicide is everyone's business and includes a simple checklist which people can use if they suspect someone is suicidal.
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The council says most people often give warning signs of their intentions.
It recommends that the best way to prevent suicide is to recognise the signs.
It suggests people should ask the following:
- How are you feeling?
- Have you had any crises, stresses or bad news?
- Have you had any thoughts about ending your life?
- Have you made any plans to end your life?
The council says people should listen to what others have to say and offer them support.
If they think someone is in immediate danger they should call 999 and not leave them alone.
If they are not in immediate danger but people are worried they are still at risk, they are asked to contact their doctor or take the person to their GP or local A&E.
Other options are to ring the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90; Child Line on 0800 1111; or Cumbria's out of hours health service CHOC on 03000 247 247.
The council says people should point out the alternatives, show that they care and get a doctor or other health professional involved.
It says the signals are more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.
Coun Patricia Bell, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “There is little that matches the devastation caused by a suicide. It's vital that everyone realises that they can make a difference to someone with suicidal thoughts.
"This prevention strategy will see all agencies in Cumbria pooling resources to work together to make a change and ensure everyone knows that it's everyone's business.
“If you suspect someone may be feeling suicidal, encourage them to talk about it – it could save their life.”
People bereaved through suicide also need support and are at increased risk of suicidal thoughts, said the authority.
Social attitudes and stigma often leave people who have lost a loved one feeling isolated, the council said.
A Cumbrian branch of the national charity Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) has been established.
As well as this, a county-wide suicide alertness training programme is available to organisations and community groups through Carlisle Eden Mind. For further details email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01228 543354.