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World suicide prevention day 2014


10 September 2014 is International Suicide Prevention Day. Globally, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death. In England and Wales, suicide is the leading cause of death for 20-34 year olds, and the leading cause of death in men aged 20-49.

There is no single reason why someone may try to take their own life, but certain things can increase the risk.

For example, if someone is unemployed or in debt this could lead to them experiencing suicidal thoughts.  Suffering a bereavement, going through family breakdown or living alone can contribute to these kind of thoughts as well. A person may also be more likely to have suicidal thoughts if they have a mental health condition, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Misusing alcohol or drugs can also make a person more vulnerable.

Dr Ray Walsh, local GP and mental health clinical lead for NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: "Although it can be difficult, if you are having suicidal thoughts it is really important to talk to someone you can trust. This could be a family member, a friend or a health or social care professional. You should also talk to your GP, who can help with mental health problems by providing advice and treatment, such as medication or counselling."

He added: "Having lived through my own depressive illness and experienced the suicide of someone very close, I cannot overemphasise the need to stay connected and utilise the support that is available. As well as exercising your body it is essential to spend some time keeping your mind healthy."

If you're concerned about your state of mind and are feeling low or anxious, it's a good idea to start by talking about your feelings with friends and family. If you prefer, you can visit your GP. Don't feel ashamed of how you're feeling. Worries about mental health are the second most common reason for visiting a doctor, so you're not alone.

The Lambeth Living Partnership based at 65 Effra Road, London, SW2 1BZ provides one-to-one support focused on employment, community connections, social inclusion and a range of training opportunities as well as support accessing local services and opportunities. They also have an information service and a drop-in service.

If you feel depressed or anxious you can ring Lambeth's free Psychological Therapies Service on 020 3228 6747. You could also log on to or call 020 7501 9203 for information about local counselling services and helplines. More information about help and support available in Lambeth is also available on our dedicated page.

Five steps to mental wellbeing

1.       Connect

Getting to know the people who live around you helps to give you a sense of community. Say hello to your neighbour or ask your local shopkeeper how they are. Work together to resolve a local issue. Hold a street party. Ring up an old friend or family member you haven't heard from in a while. Rather than eating sandwiches at your desk or skipping lunch, ask a work colleague to join you for a proper break.

2.       Be active

Keeping active makes you feel good. Find something you enjoy – cycling, swimming, dancing and just do it! Walking is a free and easy way to get moving, and there are many ways to explore Lambeth on foot.  You could join a weekly guided Active Walk on Streatham Common, Brockwell Park, The Embankment or Kennington Park. 

3.       Keep learning

Learning a new skill can make you feel good about yourself, confident and adventurous. Rediscover an old interest. Learn to play an instrument, roller skate or cook a new dish. Plant something. There are plenty of things to try in Lambeth from amateur dramatics theatre groups to low cost adult learning courses. If you don't want to do a whole course, you can learn in your own time in one of Lambeth's libraries. They are free to join and run lots of different activities, including book groups.

4.       Give to others

Helping someone else can make you feel better about yourself. Help your neighbour or friend out by lending a hand. Smile at a stranger in the street. Thank someone. Your actions will make other people feel good too. Volunteer at a local community group or charity and you will meet new people, learn new skills and gain valuable experience. You could join one of Lambeth's time banks, where you can swap skills with other members of the scheme.

5.       Take notice

Be mindful of the moment and how you are feeling. Reflecting on your life experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. Take some time out from your daily schedule to relax, take stock and notice the world around you. It costs nothing to get out and explore your local area, but the benefits can be priceless. A browse through the colourful stalls at Brixton Market is a great way to brighten your day. Watching the street performers on the South Bank is also free and fun.

For more information on the five steps to mental wellbeing, see the NHS Choices website.