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Suicide awareness campaigners urge Highlanders to 'Ask, Tell Save a Life'

By Staff Reporter

General news.
General news.

HEALTH chiefs have urged Highlanders to "Ask, Tell Save a Life" as part of Suicide Prevention Week.

The theme for the awareness week, which runs until Sunday, is: "Working Together to Prevent Suicide" and acknowledges the importance that a public health approach is needed to address suicide rates in Scotland.

NHS Health Scotland has thrown its support behind the scheme, and has stressed that suicide prevention "is everyone's business".

It said that targets aimed at reducing the Scottish suicide rate by a fifth by 2022 will only be achieved by greater collaboration at national, local and individual friends/families level.

"We are all partners in preventing suicide and we all have a part to play in ensuring every life matters in Scotland," they said,.

Last year 55 people in the Highland Council area took their own lives.

Keith Walker, Chairman of Highland area Multi Agency Suicide Prevention Group 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.”

Keith added: “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.”

To support this campaign in the Highlands, NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education Scotland have made an awareness animation widely and easily accessible at www.bit.ly/AskTellSaveALife.

"We are asking everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them," added Mr Walker. "The 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."

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.

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