If you can read between the lines, you can save lives. That’s the message Choose Life is sending out to people in Dumfries and Galloway to mark Suicide Prevention Week from Monday 7 to Sunday 13 September.
Last year 17 people in Dumfries and Galloway took their own lives, leaving a lasting impact on families, friends and communities.
The Read between the Lines campaign calls on everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. The message is that 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.
The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be ambiguous, but encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously, even if the person seems to be living a normal life. It also aims to assure people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.
Claire Thirlwall Choose Life Co-ordinator in Dumfries and Galloway said: “You tend to know when someone close to you isn’t quite themselves. So if you notice any changes in their behaviour that worry you – even if the signs come and go – ask them about it.
“You’ll find that talking can help a person get clarity about what it is that’s troubling them, and often gives a sense of perspective. Starting a conversation is half the battle. You don’t need to have an answer to their problems – just be there for them, try to listen carefully without judging, and show that you care.”
Claire added: “If it feels right, ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought in their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to say, ‘yes, I am’ and acknowledge they need help.”
The campaign targets men and women who are likely to be in greatest contact with people most at risk of suicide – men aged 30-59, since statistics show that around three quarters of suicides have been men in every year since 1990.
Raising awareness of suicide prevention and giving the public information is a vital part of suicide prevention work. A region wide media campaign and training in suicide prevention tool will be taking place across Dumfries and Galloway. For more details on the training available please contact Claire Thirlwall on 01387 260 927.