Just asking a question could save someone's life

A new public health campaign launching today ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day hopes to encourage people to talk more openly about mental health and potentially save their life in the process.

The ‘How Are You Really Feeling’ campaign aims to reduce the stigma of talking about mental health.

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The Towards Zero Suicide collaborative has run a series of conferences in Truro over the last year, finding ways of working to reduce suicides towards zero. The campaign emerged from an idea at the conferences to create something to help reduce the stigma of mental health and get people talking about it more openly.

Dr Sara Roberts, Consultant in Public Health for Cornwall Council said “If you're worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Listening is the best way to help. Try to avoid offering solutions and try not to judge. 

“We really want to encourage people to start talking about mental health and how they feel as part of their everyday lives, and we want people to feel it’s OK to say you’re not OK.

“We’re asking communities to take up the offer of putting a box full of leaflets somewhere ‘normal’” such as a coffee shop, hairdresser, barber, petrol station or newsagent. We want talking about mental health to become a normal part of our day.

 “Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say or how to begin a conversation – our leaflets give you some ideas of how to get started. And if the person you’re having a conversation with says “I’m not OK”, the reverse side of the leaflet has some top tips and ideas of where they can get help.”

Dr Ellen Wilkinson Medical Director for Cornwall Partnership NHS  Foundation Trust added ”People who survive a suicide attempt have said that if just one person had asked them if they were OK they wouldn’t have gone through with it. Just asking the question could be powerful enough to save a life.

“It’s not just about people who are feeling suicidal – this is about saying mental health is a core part of everyone’s wellbeing and encouraging people to talk about it.”

Some top tips from the campaign include supporting someone by telling them that they can talk to you without being judged, or that getting help will make it easier for them.

The campaign also includes 10 top things to do to improve mental health such as eating well, being physically active, doing something you enjoy, and asking for help.

If you think someone is at risk of suicide you should persuade them to speak to their GP who will be able to provide the right support.

You can find out more about the campaign on our website or on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Story posted 8 September 2017