Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is backing a new smartphone suicide prevention app that has been launched to provide practical support for people in Lanarkshire having suicidal thoughts or who may know someone who is.
The Suicide Prevention in Lanarkshire app, a venture of Suicide Prevention North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Council’s Every Life Matters, is packed with useful information to help keep people safe and provide guidance on how to look out for others you may be concerned about.
Designed with a view to help get the ‘Let’s Talk’ message across, the app contains details about training and awareness sessions, facts and myths around suicide, how to start the conversation about suicide, how to access crucial support helplines and much more.
The app can be downloaded from mobile device app stores by searching for SP Lanarkshire. Lynne McDonald, Suicide Prevention Lead for North Lanarkshire Council, said:
“This newly designed app will provide a valuable resource for people concerned about suicide. People can use it if they are having thoughts of suicide or if they are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.
“It offers a number of features providing practical information and support which could prove vital. ‘Let’s Talk’ is the message we want to get across as we try to encourage people to talk more openly about suicide so we can all work together to help prevent it.” Paul Kelly, Depute Leader of North Lanarkshire Council, added:
“It is so important that we keep raising awareness about suicide prevention in our communities. The emotional impact on families, friends and communities bereaved by suicide is devastating and can have awful long-lasting effect on those left behind.
“This newly developed app will help with our efforts here in Lanarkshire to raise public awareness about suicide prevention.” Susan McMorrin, Suicide Prevention Lead for South Lanarkshire Council, further endorsed the app:
“I would urge everyone to download the Suicide Prevention Lanarkshire app as it provides quick and easy access to information and support which can be used to help prevent the tragedy of suicide.
“If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, when changes in their behaviour begin to worry you, it is vital you take action.
“The app gives valuable guidance to help you deal with difficult situations you may be concerned about and what support is available to you. Every life matters and we can all make a difference.”
Alarming research in recent months has indicated that a fifth of vulnerable people in the UK thought about self-harming or killing themselves during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown.
The telephone helpline of Samaritans, a charity which provides talking and listening support to anyone in emotional distress, reported a significant increase in callers over the past 15 months. Many of these people highlighted that they felt more anxious and distressed than ever before as a result of the crisis.
Even before the coronavirus emergency it was known that Scotland had the highest suicide rate in the UK, with 16.1 deaths per 100,000 persons.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2018 there were 833 deaths by suicide Scotland. Three-quarters of these deaths were amongst men, and the highest prevalence was amongst people aged 45-49.
This year, a number of medical experts have voiced their concerns that people experiencing suicidal thoughts have been severely affected by the closure or reduction of key services as a result of coronavirus.
In 2018, Scottish Government published Every Life Matters, Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan. Rose Fitzpatrick CBE QPM, Chair of a National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group implemented to monitor progress in relation to suicide prevention, emphasised the importance of a united national approach:
“In raising public awareness about suicide, we must all work to create a movement in which suicide is no longer stigmatised and suicide prevention is everyone’s business.
“We will continue to work towards a Scotland where suicide is preventable; where help and support is available to anyone contemplating suicide and to those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
“We will work to remove the stigma which prevents people asking for help, and also to empower people to give that help when it is needed.”
For a multitude of reasons, Cumbernauld remains an area in which a range of social, health, environmental and cultural issues exist.
Making improvements in how people think and behave about suicide is a complex area and needs a range of actions and approaches. Crucial to this is the coordination and delivery of efforts at both national and local levels.
Anyone can have thoughts of suicide, and everyone can learn to help. Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is committed to supporting and promoting a range of campaigns and organisations which discuss and raise awareness of suicide and what people can do to help those at risk.
Last year, celebrities including Steve Coogan and actors from Still Game threw their weight behind a campaign to raise awareness of suicide prevention in North Lanarkshire.
Suicide Prevention North Lanarkshire’s ‘You Matter’ initiative centred on a short video with 12 household names offering useful tips and advice on how to keep positive and where to get support if you are experiencing low mood or suicidal thoughts.
DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE: ACCESS FREE AND IMMEDIATE SUICIDE-PREVENTION SUPPORT
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please be aware that there is a range of free, confidential and compassionate services out there which offer immediate and round-the-clock help.
Within the North Lanarkshire area, local organisations such as FAMS (Families and Friends Against Murder and Suicide) can be contacted 24 hours per day on 07736 326062 or via email at email@example.com, as can Chris’s House on 01236 766755 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, if you are a resident of Greater Cumbernauld and need someone to talk to as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Cumbernauld CHaT Service can be contacted on 07940 569527 (every day between 9am and 9pm) or by emailing email@example.com.
A range of further information, training and suicide prevention resources can be obtained by visiting Public Health Scotland’s website.