IGA News

Suicide awareness and checking in with someone

Suicide awareness and checking in with someone

03 November 2021

Sadly, suicide is not uncommon in the automotive industry. Automotive charity Ben are sharing information to help you spot warning signs that someone may be struggling.

They also have some tips on how to check in with someone and what to do if you’re worried about them. You might feel uncomfortable or worried about the reaction you might get, but a simple hey, how are you? can go a long way - it could help save a life.

In the UK, men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women. On average, 12 men in the British isles take their own lives every day.

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45. Yet, it’s not just young men that are at risk, as the highest suicide rate is for men aged 45-49 in the UK.

There are many factors that make men more vulnerable to suicide. Men are often under pressure to appear strong and not show signs of weakness. This means they are less likely to talk about any issues they are facing or seek help when they are struggling with their mental health. Sometimes pride comes into the equation and men may think they can handle their issues on their own or worry about being a burden to others. Men are also more likely to respond to stress with risky behaviour such as abusing alcohol which increases the risk of suicide by up to eight times.

A relationship breakdown has a bigger impact on a man’s suicide risk, than a woman’s – divorced men are three times more likely to commit suicide than their married peers, whereas divorced women show no increased risk.

Warning signs to look out for in your friends, family or co-workers include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Experiencing extreme mood swings
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Feelings of anger, hopelessness or disconnection
  • Giving away possessions
  • Giving up previously loved activities
  • Writing goodbye letters

Many people struggle to cope at one point or another in their lives. Reaching out to someone could help them know that someone cares, and that they are valued. It can be difficult for people to open up about how they are feeling, so it is important to keep checking in, and to be aware of the warning signs to look out for.

Here are some top tips to get you started:

Be brave – Suicide can be a sensitive subject, but don’t be afraid to start a conversation and ask direct questions around suicide like ‘Are you having suicidal thoughts?’. You will be able to tell if the person does not want to share with you. Asking difficult questions will show them that you are not scared to talk about it, and it may give them the confidence they need to share how they are feeling.

Ask open ended questions – Questions such as, “how have you been feeling?” or “what’s on your mind?” give the person more opportunity to open up and say more than just “yes” or “no”.

Listen without judgement – It is difficult for many to share how they are feeling, so it is really important to listen to them without making any judgements. Give them your undivided attention, and try not to talk about yourself or blame them for how they are feeling.

Be patient – Opening up can take time, make sure that you give them time and space to speak. If they pause, avoid jumping in to fill the silences – as they may have more to say. Remember that you don’t need to try and solve all their problems, just listening will show them that you care and understand.

Take them seriously – It is important to take what the person is telling you seriously. Some people who talk about having suicidal thoughts, may go on to act on their feelings. Keep offering your support and check in on them regularly.

Get additional help – It’s important to recognise the limit of the support you can offer as a friend, and sometimes people need professional support, especially if this has been ongoing for a while. There are lots of services that can help:

  • Ben: If they work or have worked in automotive, or are a family dependant of someone that does – Ben are here to help
  • GP: Find your local GP here
  • Samaritans: have a free 24 hour helpline on 116 123 and lots of useful resources/support online
  • Hub of Hope: find local mental health support in your area
  • Emergency services: If a life it in immediate danger, call 999

Having these conversations can be hard, so it’s important to take care of yourself too. If you’re struggling with your mental health or if you need someone to talk to, you can call Ben’s free and confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 or chat with them online Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm.