Celebrities including Steve Coogan and actors from Still Game have thrown their weight behind a campaign to raise awareness of suicide prevention in North Lanarkshire.
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 the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the risk of suicide amongst Scottish people 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 2018 there were 784 deaths by suicide in Scotland, indicating that our nation has the highest suicide rate in the UK.
In this respect, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is supporting Suicide Prevention North Lanarkshire’s ‘You Matter’ initiative, which centres on a short video with 12 celebrity voices offering useful tips and advice to keep positive and where to get support if you are experiencing low mood or suicidal thoughts.
The video, which can be viewed by clicking here, has been launched as part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 (18-24 May 2020). 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.
Coogan, famous for comedically playing the hapless fictional broadcaster Alan Partridge, is seen in the video alongside other household names such as Still Game’s Sanjeev Kohli (Navid Harrid), Jane McCarry (Isa Drennan) and Scott Reid (‘Methadone Mick’), and River City’s Stephen Purdon (‘Shellsuit Bob’), Tom Urie (‘Big Bob’), Frank Gallagher (Lenny Murdoch) and Robin Laing (DI Donald).
Local showbiz specialist Ross Owen, who used his celebrity contacts to help pull together the video, commented: “I understand how difficult it is for some people, and particularly men, to talk about having suicidal thoughts or to ask for help.
“And with the current situation, people are experiencing new levels of stress through increased isolation.” Sanjeev Kohli echoed those sentiments:
“This is a hugely important message for people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts. It’s difficult to ask for help but support is there at the end of a phone.
“So talk to someone; you’ll be surprised how people respond. People do care.” Stephen Purdon added:
“Let’s face it, men are sometimes not the greatest talkers but just making that first ask can result in a huge weight lifted from your shoulders.
“People want to help. And there’s a wealth of professional help available locally and nationally. All it takes is to make that call to stay safe. Just talking is the most important first step.”
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). Councillor Paul Kelly, Depute Leader of North Lanarkshire Council, said:
“Undoubtedly our current lifestyle presents challenges to many people and this is exacerbated by isolation and loneliness. This is even more apparent for those who live alone.
“We have been working with local organisations and communities for many years now to tackle the issues around suicide, training people to recognise the signs and to signpost people to resources to help reduce the number of suicides in North Lanarkshire.
“The encouragement and inspiration from the celebrities in this video will hopefully reach out to those people in our communities who are feeling low or having suicidal thoughts so they understand that you really do matter.
“The most important thing anyone can do is to talk to someone, ask for help and pick up the phone to one of the support services.”
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.
Guidance, practical and emotional support is also available to Cumbernauld residents 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 Cumbernauld seeking support at this time are also encouraged to download and utilise The Cumbernauld Coronavirus 100 Directory. This details 100 organisations, services, supports and resources across the public, voluntary and private sectors which may be of benefit to Cumbernauld citizens during the coronavirus outbreak.
A range of further information, training and suicide prevention resources can be obtained by visiting the Choose Life website. Scottish Government’s latest Suicide Prevention Action Plan, published in 2018, can be downloaded by clicking on the highlighted link.