Sticking plasters and Suicide

Warning: may trigger

Today the Welsh part of the BBC News website reported on The Samaritans’ and Network Rail’s campaign to reduce suicide on the railways by 20% in 5 years. The campaign was launched in 2010.

The article goes on the report that:

“Suicide rates in Wales have risen 30% in two years to the highest level since 2004 and are higher than in England.”

There are so may facets to this…

The national Samaritans/Network Rail initiative (displaying information at stations re: helplines etc) is a positive step. There can be no doubt about that. Anything that can help must be surely welcomed. However, it is a reactionary approach and a last resort for those in crisis. Violent, or active, suicide attempts (e.g. jumping, hanging) are more “successful” than passive (e.g. overdose) methods of ending life and so the idea of relying on posters at train stations etc. when someone is in the process of trying to kill themselves is a dangerous game to play. We can’t afford to hope that someone when in such distress will be able to comprehend a poster or be rational enough to be able  to do something about it.

Surely what we need to be doing when looking at these increased rates of suicide is think about getting to people before they feel the need to end their lives in this way. Better crisis prevention and crisis intervention. More people are in crisis? Then the simple answer is that we need to expand our service catchment and that means, I’m sorry the Government, the NHS et al, that more money needs to be spent to achieve this. There is no other way. There is no cheaper way to help prevent these needless deaths.

Another aspect to this article that I want to raise is the issue of suicides rising faster in Wales than England. This is not something we can just dismiss. It needs to be shouted about. We really need to be delving in to why this is, and what we are able to do address this. For perhaps if we can find the reason why there is this discrepancy we can target our resources to those most in need. Although something inside me hates the idea of having to target resources; in an ideal world everyone in need should receive assistance.

We also need to look at what in particular has changed to make the suicide rate soar. The BBC article talks about “anecdotal evidence” regarding the financial state of the country. However, anecdotal evidence is not enough. Mental health needs to get more evidence-based as a matter of urgency. Because after all, it isn’t a case of “wouldn’t it be nice to know”, it is a case of real people’s lives being at stake.


The full BBC Wales article can be found here:

3 thoughts on “Sticking plasters and Suicide

  1. Zarathustra says:

    I think this definitely needs more than just a few posters, and I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that suicide rates are rising at a time when mental health services are being cut. No doubt high unemployment, falls in standards of living, ATOS, the bedroom tax etc etc are all doing their bit to drive people over the edge. The human cost of austerity.

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