Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Friday, September 10th, Pieta – the suicide prevention charity – spotlights the ‘Know the Signs of Suicide’ initiative. ‘Know the Signs of Suicide’ is a public awareness resource created to help people identify some signs that may be recognisable if someone they know is considering taking their own life. Since the beginning of the year, the Pieta crisis helpline has received over 27,000 calls relating to suicide, self-harm, and suicide bereavement.

In Ireland, the overall suicide rate for males is three times higher than for females. When a loved one or friend is behaving in a worrying way, it is difficult to know how to help them. Pieta is urging everyone to ‘Know the Signs of Suicide’ when someone is considering taking their own life so that you can help a loved one feeling blocked in by their own consuming thoughts and look towards hope.

Knowing some of the signs to listen and watch out for is the first step in helping someone:

Signs to listen for:

•Talking or writing about hurting themselves, dying or saying that they want to die

•Talking about ways to die or having a suicide plan

•Saying they are ‘trapped’ or have no options in their life

•Saying they have no purpose in their life, that they feel hopeless

•Saying they feel like a burden to those around them.

Signs to look out for:

•Giving items away or saying goodbye to people

•Becoming more inward-looking and withdrawing from family and friends

•Changes in their sleep patterns – too much or too little sleep

•Extreme emotions or dramatic changes in mood

•Increasing their use of drugs or alcohol.

When you know the signs, you can follow three simple steps, A.P.R. (Ask – Persuade – Refer) – and just like CPR, it can save a life.

If someone opens up to you, don’t be afraid to ask them directly if they are thinking of suicide or wanting to kill themselves. Talking to them openly and honestly is one of the best things you can do. Even just listening is one of the most powerful tools available to us. Once you have asked the question, calmly and gently Persuade them to seek help or to allow you to assist them in getting help. If you cannot persuade them, remember that Pieta’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline is open 24 hours a day. As soon as you can, Refer or guide them to Pieta – if you can, make the call with them or travel with them to the appointment.

Pieta’s Clinical Director, Emma Dolan, says: “Here at Pieta, we have received over 27,000 calls to our 24/7 suicide, self-harm and suicide bereavement crisis line since the start of 2021. The world as we know it has changed drastically over the last 18 months, and now more than ever, it is important to look out and know the signs of suicide. Families speak to us following suicide bereavement and often the same feelings arise. They likely wish they had of know what to look out for or what to say and how to broach the situation in the best way. It’s so important for people to know these signs, and to never be afraid to reach out to a loved one”

Westmeath Footballer, Ray Connellan, who is supporting the ‘Know the Signs of Suicide’ initiative says: “I’ve been very open about my own struggles and because of this I know how difficult it can be to turn to anyone, your friend’s, family and simply say I’m not ok. We can’t tell what’s going on inside anyone else’s head, but we can recognise a change in behaviour and the language they use to talk about themselves and life. I think for this reason it’s essential to expose people to the signs of suicide.”

Also lending his support for Pieta’s initiative, Stephen Byrne, comments: “Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, I would encourage anyone that has doubts about their loved one’s state of mind to be mindful and become aware of the ‘Signs of Suicide’ and actively follow Pieta’s A.P.R approach. Spotting the signs is one thing but approaching the situation head-on is another, these conversations need to keep happening if we want to continue saving as many lives as possible from suicide.”

Pieta’s professional counsellors specialise in suicide prevention and tackling self-harm. The charity has centres all over Ireland and Pieta’s Freephone Crisis Helpline is open 24/7. All services are provided free of charge and no referral is needed.