I received some sad news last night – the death of a bright, talented young man deeply affected by depression.
This morning I am sitting at my computer; there is a To-Do List with several items on it to my left, in my current notebook. The relevant papers are around me and on the work table behind me for the things on that list. Yet, I am distracted; distracted by that sad news. It is the sort of news that motivates me to do what I do, and to do more of it – to teach people mental health first aid – enough to make a difference to lives and communities. We must talk about mental health more. #changeonething
One way people are talking about mental health more is clearly demonstrated by the railways working in conjunction with the Samaritans. They have made a brilliant short film about the importance of talking to people, if in doubt, talk to them. They have a Small Talk Saves Lives campaign and it really does. They have calculated that for every completed suicide, six are prevented (yes, SIX!). It can be as simple as engaging with them and talking about the weather. You can make a difference. The 90-second film is available to view here.
We all have mental health. Some of us have good mental health and some of us are affected by mental ill-health. There is no health without mental health. We must talk about mental health more. Small talk saves lives.
Borrowing directly from the Samaritans website:
Signs someone may need help
Looking distant, withdrawn or upset
Standing alone or in an isolated spot
Staying on the platform for long periods of time/failing to catch trains that stop
Someone looking out of place or a feeling that ‘something isn’t quite right’. If you feel that way about someone, trust your instincts and try to help.
Approaching someone in need
We know that when a person is suicidal having someone to talk to them and listen to them, and showing that they are not alone, can encourage them to seek support. There is no evidence that talking to someone who could be at risk will ‘make things worse’.
A little small talk can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and help start them on a journey to recovery. If you think that someone might need help, trust your instincts and strike up a conversation, with a comment about the weather for example. Life-saving questions used by rail staff to help people have included:
Do you need any help?
What’s your name?
It’s a warm evening isn’t it?
What train are you going to get?
So strike up a conversation if you feel comfortable and it’s safe to do so. Or tell a member of staff or call 999. Your involvement could help save someone’s live.
One of the ways I make a difference is by having the Samaritans phone number on my mobile – I can contact them with a few quick keystrokes for someone if needed. That number is 116123. Why not add it to your phone right now?
There is a lot more information on the Samaritans website.
Why not take a look. You too could save someone’s life.