With more individuals and families reportedly struggling with mental health issues than at any other point during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the people of Cumbernauld are being urged to get behind North Lanarkshire Council’s ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign.
It’s the subject that nobody really wants to talk about, but with people in Scotland experiencing greater worry, stress and anxiety than ever before due to lockdown restrictions and the longevity of the pandemic, the risk of suicide amongst people in Greater Cumbernauld is at an all-time high.
Suicide affects people from all walks of life; men, women and young people, regardless of background, circumstances or age. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2019 there were 833 deaths by suicide in Scotland, including 49 people in North Lanarkshire who took their own lives.
These alarming statistics indicate that our nation has the highest suicide rate in the UK, with the rate amongst 15-24 year-old men in Scotland at its highest since 2007. Equally, the suicide rate amongst 25-34 year-olds is at its highest since 2013, and there has also been a worrying increase in female suicide rates.
In this respect, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is encouraging people to take time to watch and share with others a short ‘Don’t Mask Your Feelings’ video on suicide prevention. This has been released to offer some comfort and guidance to those struggling to cope at this challenging time.
It aims to highlight the range of support available to those who may be feeling suicidal in Cumbernauld and the surrounding towns and villages, providing contact details for key agencies that can help such as Samaritans, Breathing Space and Childline.
The campaign follows on from Suicide Prevention North Lanarkshire’s ‘You Matter’ initiative in 2020, which centred on a short video with 12 celebrity voices offering useful tips and advice to keep positive and where to go for support if you are experiencing low mood or suicidal thoughts.
Suicide Prevention North Lanarkshire is a partnership led by North Lanarkshire Council which also includes Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire, NHS Lanarkshire, Choose Life and Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH). Paul Kelly, Depute Leader of North Lanarkshire Council, commented:
“The emotional impact on families, friends and communities bereaved by suicide is devastating and can have awful long-lasting effects on those left behind.
“We have developed this new campaign to help assist with local and national efforts to raise awareness about suicide prevention. We can all play a part in saving lives.
“We are asking everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide. If you’re worried about someone, a friend, a family member or work colleague, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.
“If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, when changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – it is vital to ask them about it.
“Talking openly about their feelings can help a person get clarity about what is troubling them. Starting this conversation can make such a difference.
“You don’t need to have all the answers, but by being there for them and listening, without judgement, shows that you care and that their distress, and ultimately their happiness, is important to you.
“Indeed, by taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life.”
IS THERE FREE AND IMMEDIATE HELP AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE EXPERIENCING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES?
Yes, absolutely. There are a range of free, confidential and compassionate services out there which offer immediate and round-the-clock help to individuals from the Cumbernauld area having suicidal thoughts (and their families).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, as can Chris’s House on 01236 766755 or via email at email@example.com.
Listening, practical and emotional support is also available to Cumbernauld citizens during the coronavirus emergency through Cornerstone House Centre’s Cumbernauld CHaT (Community Help and Talk) Service. To access this free provision, please telephone 07940 569527 any day of the week between 9am and 9pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
People living in Greater Cumbernauld seeking assistance at this time are also invited to download and utilise The Cumbernauld Coronavirus 101 Directory. First published in 2020, this details 101 organisations, services, supports and resources across the public, voluntary and private sectors which may be of benefit to Cumbernauld citizens during the pandemic.
Furthermore, Scottish Government’s latest Suicide Prevention Action Plan, published in 2018, can be downloaded by clicking on the highlighted link. Latest statistics and trends in relation to suicide across Scotland can also be viewed by visiting Public Health Scotland’s Suicide Overview for 2020.
Next week, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub will continue to promote the ‘Let’s Talk’ theme by publishing a special feature focussing on Time to Talk Day, which takes place on Thursday 4 February 2021.
Meanwhile, Suicide Prevention North Lanarkshire is promoting a virtual run or cycle event during week beginning Monday 19 April 2021. The purpose is to raise awareness about suicide prevention and a donation from entry fees will be made to Samaritans Scotland. Further information about this and sign-up details can be accessed by clicking here.