A new campaign has been launched to encourage people in Greater Manchester to talk about suicide, the biggest killer of men under 49 and women aged between 20 to 34 in the region.
More than 200 people a year take their own life in Greater Manchester and leaders across the city region have today said “enough is enough” and that “it’s time to break the stigma of talking about suicide, suicidal thoughts and suicide bereavement”.
It follows research and evidence among people who have considered suicide, that talking honestly and openly about suicide helped to save their lives.
The #shiningalightonsuicide campaign has been created to prevent suicides and aims to take the subject out of the dark by encouraging everyone across Greater Manchester to talk openly about suicide.
The ‘Shining a Light on Suicide’ campaign was officially launched at the University of Salford, Digital Performance Lab (theatre), MediaCityUK on Wednesday 1 May.
During the event, hosted by DJ, writer and mental health campaigner Dave Haslam, guests will hear from speakers, attempt survivors, those who have been bereaved and organisations which work to prevent suicide.
Panellists include Danny Sculthorpe, former England rugby league player, Sacha Lord, founder of the Warehouse Project and Parklife Festival and night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester with a special focus on the mental health and wellbeing of staff, Donna Thomas, CEO of the Anthony Seddon Trust and a bereaved mother, and Angela Samata, Co-author of Save A Life Training and BAFTA nominated presenter of the BBC’s Life After Suicide film, who lost her partner to suicide.
The #shiningalightonsuicide campaign has been commissioned by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and is supported by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and all the partners including NHS, councils, police, fire, emergency services, armed forces’ veterans, voluntary and community groups such as LGBT and Samaritans and many others.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:
“We are losing parents, children, friends, colleagues – the people around us – to suicide and this campaign is right, enough is enough.
“For every suicide that occurs, there are up to 20 more suicide attempts and one in five of us have had suicidal thoughts at some point.
“The #shiningalightonsuicide campaign will not only highlight the facts about suicide in our city region but show people that there is nothing to be feared in talking about suicide and mental health.
“By getting people to talk openly about suicide, the campaign will hopefully help reduce suicide and improve adult mental health.
“This will be fundamental to unlocking the power and potential of our Greater Manchester communities.”
With a short film, website, and a toolkit for all partners, the campaign will inform people across Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs what can be done to help those with suicidal thoughts – while ensuring they are signposted to support organisations.
Personal stories and short films have also been created, featuring people from across the city region who have been directly affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts.
The ‘Shining a Light on Suicide’ campaign, which will be delivered across Greater Manchester over the coming months, will collaborate with a network of stakeholder organisations, the media and use social media to ensure communities in all ten boroughs are targeted.
The collateral that is produced as part of the ‘Shining a Light on Suicide’ will then be used by partner organisations to continue the campaign in their communities.
Former rugby league star Danny Sculthorpe was capped eight times by England and represented elite Super League clubs including Wigan Warriors before a career-ending spinal injury aged 30 left him tormented by depression and suicidal thoughts.
Now 39, father-of-three Danny said that ‘opening up’ saved his life.
“The biggest thing that saved my life, even more so than medication, was talking,” he said.
“Shortly after telling my wife and parents about my suicidal thoughts a massive weight came off my shoulders. We spent hours talking and crying.
“Unfortunately, the injury I sustained left me feeling that I could no longer provide for my wife and children. I went from being an elite sportsman to being pretty much bed bound and knowing that I wouldn’t play again. Bottling it up pushed me to the edge.
“But I got it all off my chest which was an unbelievable feeling. I also visited my GP, was prescribed anti-depressants and spoke to a counsellor on many occasions.”
Danny added: “I’m now much better and am so thankful that I spoke to my wife and parents on that day when I’d reached my lowest point. If I hadn’t, and instead acted on my suicidal thoughts, I would have ruined so many people’s lives.
“I’m shining a light on suicide because I believe that we shouldn’t and cannot be afraid of talking about suicide. If you are struggling, don’t keep things bottled up like I did, seek help.”
Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said:
“Sadly too many people lose their lives to suicide, leaving devastated families to pick up the pieces.
“This campaign aims to shift the focus of care to prevention, early intervention and resilience by creating a culture where it’s seen as ok to speak openly and honestly about suicide.
“Through ‘Shining a Light on Suicide’ we are aiming to remove the stigma associated with suicide, so the entire Greater Manchester community understands their role in helping us reduce suicide in our region.”
Suicide affects us all. Encourage someone to talk before suicide seems their only option. Together we can help prevent suicide. Find out how at shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk
If you’re struggling to cope call Samaritans on 116 123
Take the free 20 minute Save a life training. http://bit.ly/learntosavealife