Suicide prevention

Cupped hands holding yellow ribbon.

Our approach to suicide prevention at NELFT

Suicide is a complex issue which can affect anyone, anywhere. There is no single cause and no single solution.

Through the pages below, we aim to share information, advice and resources to help and support you as well as information about the work we are doing at NELFT following the launch of our Suicide Prevention Stragegy on 10 September 2021. 

The NELFT Suicide Prevention Strategy objectives are aligned to the National Suicide Prevention Strategy (NSPS) and aim to reduce the suicide rate in the population of individuals that encounter our services and to provide better support for those bereaved or affected by suicide more generally. As a mental health provider and in delivering this Strategy, we will focus our efforts on eight domains. Seven areas for action as highlighted in the NSPS, as well as a Zero Suicide Ambition. 

These include: 

  1. Reduce the risk of suicide in key high-risk groups. 

  2. Tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups 

  3. Reduce access to the means of suicide. 

  4. Provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide. 

  5. Support the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour. 

  6. Support research, data collection and monitoring. 

  7. Reducing the rates of self-harm as a key indicator of suicide risk. (added to the NSPS in 2017). 

  8. Zero suicide ambition for Mental Health Acute services (added to the NSPS in 2018) 

All eight domains are underpinned by a culture of hope, recovery, growth and development.

Nelft suicide prevention strategy infographic.

Understanding suicidal feelings

Suicide is the act of intentionally ending your life. If you're reading this because you have, or have had, thoughts about taking your own life, it's important you ask someone for help. It's probably difficult for you to see at this time, but you're not alone and not beyond help.

Suicidal thoughts sometimes start because people feel overwhelmed by their problems or their situation. When we get overwhelmed it can be hard to see a way out. Our thinking can become very negative and narrow, and it becomes difficult to get perspective and find solutions.

Suicidal thoughts are far more common than people realise, we just don't talk about them – we suffer in silence. Anyone can have thoughts of suicide.

People can become suicidal if they have really difficult or upsetting things to deal with or if they have lots of smaller worries that pile up and make them feel overwhelmed.

Telling someone how you feel can be frightening. However, talking to someone is the first step to getting help, staying safe and developing a sense of hope.

With the right support, things can get better.

Suicide prevention - Warning signs

The reasons that people take their own lives are often very complex.

When someone is contemplating suicide, their words and actions can give you clues that they are at risk for hurting themselves.

On this page we talk about some of the warning signs to look out for.

High-risk warning signs

A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • threaten to hurt or take their own life
  • talk or write about death, dying or suicide
  • actively look for ways to take their own life, such as stockpiling tablets

If someone you know is showing high risk warning signs, visit our 

Other signs that someone may not be okay

When someone is thinking about suicide, their words and actions can give you clues that they are at risk of hurting themselves.

The following can be suicide warning signs:

  • Talking about suicide – Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”

  • Looking for a way to end their life – Searching for a method or seeking access to medicines/ other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

  • Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. 

  • No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped. Belief that things will never get better or change.

  • Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden.

  • Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.

  • Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

  • Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.

  • Self-destructive behaviour – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks.

  • Sudden sense of calm – A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.

You might not always be able to spot these signs, and these emotions show up differently in everyone.

If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. You can access FREE training for all from the ZSA, which takes just 20 mins, to help build your confidence and skills. 

We also recommend sharing your concerns with your GP or a member of their care team, if they are being treated for a mental health condition.

Situations to look out for

It can also be useful to identify these situations that can trigger suicidal thoughts or make it hard for someone to cope.

  • relationship and family problems
  • loss, including loss of a friend or a family member through bereavement
  • financial worries
  • job-related stress
  • college or study-related stress
  • loneliness and isolation
  • depression
  • painful and/or disabling physical illness
  • heavy use of or dependency on alcohol or other drugs
  • thoughts of suicide

These may not apply to everyone who is struggling, but they can be useful to look out for.

Supporting someone you know online

Some phrases or themes to watch out for in social media updates and online messages include:

  • I want to give up

  • No-one would notice if I wasn't here

  • I hate myself

We all experience not being okay differently. Not everyone who is struggling to cope will use these phrases, in fact some people might not be posting or messaging at all.

Talking about suicide

Many people assume that if you ask someone if they have suicidal thoughts, that you can put the idea into their head. This is a myth. Talking about suicide can be a scary subject. However, the more people are willing to talk with a friend or family member about suicidal thoughts, the more likely they can help someone take positive steps.
On this page, we provide some advice around how to have the conversation with someone who you feel may be at risk of suicide. 
What you can do

You may have a niggling feeling that someone you know or care about it isn't behaving as they normally would - they may seem out of sorts, more agitated or withdrawn than normal or just not themselves. Trust that gut instinct and act on it.
By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you've noticed, you could help that family member, friend or workmate open up. If they say they are not okay, you can follow the conversation steps below to show them they're supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load. If they are okay, that person will know you're someone who cares enough to ask.

Talking about someone's problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution. However, often the most important thing you can do to help is listen to what they have to say.

Preparing to ask

Before you can look out for others, you need to look out for yourself. And that's ok. If you're not in the right headspace or you don't think you're the right person to have the conversation, try to think of someone else in their support network who could talk to them.
How to ask if they are OK 
•    Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach
•    Help them open up by asking questions like 'how are you doing?', 'what's been happening?'
•    Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them like, 'You see less chatty than usual. How are you?'
•    If they don't want to talk, don't criticise them
•    Avoid confrontation
•    You could say 'please call me if you ever want to chat' or 'is there someone else you'd rather talk to?'

Listen without judgement

•    Take what they say seriously and don't interrupt or rush the conversation
•    Don't judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them
•    If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence
•    Encourage them to explain - "how are you feeling about that?" or "how long have you felt that way?"
•    Show that you've listened by repeating back what you've heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.

Encourage action

•    Ask, "What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?"
•    Ask, "How would you like me to support you?"
•    Ask, "What's something you can do for yourself right now? Something that's enjoyable or relaxing"
•    You could say "When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this…you might find it useful too?"
•    If they've been feeling really down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, "It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I'm happy to help you find the right person to talk to."
•    Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.

Check in

•    Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they're really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
•    You could say, "I've been thinking of you and wanted to know how you've been going since we last chatted."
•    Ask if they have found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven't done anything, don't judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
•    Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

Try not to judge

It's important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving. You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse. For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol. However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them. Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.

Getting professional help

Although talking to someone about their feelings can help them feel safe and secure, these feelings may not last. It will probably require long-term support to help someone overcome their suicidal thoughts. This will most likely be easier with professional help. Not only can a professional help deal with the underlying issues behind someone's suicidal thoughts, they can also offer advice and support for yourself. We recommend speaking to your GP who can share advice and information about available support.

Looking after yourself

Supporting someone in distress can be distressing in itself. If you're helping someone who's struggling, make sure you take care of yourself as well.

If you need to talk about how you are feeling, please call Samaritans on 116 123, or email on jo@samaritans.org, whenever you need.

Training

FREE online training from ZSA can help you to support someone you're worried about. 

Our partners

Safer connections information poster In order to deliver our stategy, we work with both national and local partners who each have their own initiatives that we support and assist in delivering. 

Safe Connections - local support for peopole facing suicide in north east London. 

These services are for anyone who is feeling at risk of suicide and needs to access support, as well as for people who have an interest in trying to help prevent suicide.

These services are delivered together as Safe Connections by our partners and are in addition to existing crisis lines and local mental health support services (see tabs on the left).

There are five elements:

  1. Safe Connections  App:  providing a safe, quick and efficient way for local residents to access vital support information, downloadable via QR code or hyperlink.
  2. Community hub:  supporting local people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts to access the right service at the right time.
  3. Community protectors : training local residents to support their communities and offer near-by support for people feeling suicidal.
  4. Bereavement: offering specialist support for those bereaved following a suicide. For more info, contact supportforsuicideloss@mindchwf.org.uk or 0208 525 2337. Make an online referral via the Grief in Pieces Referral Form
  5. Training for professionals : delivering a tailored programme for health and care professionals to help them provide timely suicide interventions

Safe Connections are being provided by a range of partners working collaboratively across north east London, including: Mind in East London, Res Consortium, CPEN Tower Hamlets East London Foundation Trust, North East London Foundation Trust, and NEL CCG.

The services are accessible for people over the age of 18 years living in the following areas in north east London: City and Hackney; Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

Anyone outstid of these criteria who tries to access the services will be directed to their relevant services as appropriate. 

Resources and signposting

On this page, we share information about support services, campaign groups and other organisations which provide advice and support around suicide.  

Suicide training for all

Suicide training for all

Zero Suicide Training Alliance - access to free training here.