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New suicide prevention campaign launched

By Lorna Thompson

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LAST year 17 people in Moray took their own lives – and as Suicide Prevention Week begins today a campaign says that preventing suicide is "everyone’s business".

NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland have worked together to develop a new online resource – Ask. Tell. Save a Life: Every Life Matters – as part of the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan. The aim is to cut the Scottish suicide rate by 20% by 2022.

The online resource uses animation to raise awareness of the issues which can lead people to thoughts of taking their own life. The website is designed to equip people with the confidence to support a person in distress by directing them to the right place to get help.

The campaign urges people to be alert to warning signs of suicide among their nearest and dearest. Their message is: "If you’re worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life."

Suicide Prevention Week begins today.
Suicide Prevention Week begins today.

Sandra Gracie, suicide prevention lead in Moray, said: "If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, you will normally notice. When changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – the most important aspect is to ask them about it.

"Talking openly about their feelings can help a person get clarity about what is troubling them. Starting this conversation helps them gain a perspective on their distress. You don’t need to have a solution to their problems – being there for them and listening, without judgement, shows that you care and their distress, and ultimately their happiness, is important to you.

"Ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought into their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to open up fully and acknowledge they need help and support. By taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life."

The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be difficult to spot, but encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously – even if it seems a person is living a normal life. It also assures people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.

The website can be found at www.bit.ly/AskTellSaveALife.

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