You may or may not be aware that today is ‘World Suicide Prevention Day‘ & this week is ‘Maternal Suicide Prevention Week’.
Suicide prevention is close to my heart. For over 2 years I worked for the specialist perinatal mental health team where I spent a fair bit of time talking to mothers who felt like suicide was their only escape. Having moved on from this role; I now work in a specialist team offering therapy to anyone who has attended A&E having attempted to harm themselves or end their life.
Key statistics on maternal suicide:
- It is still the leading cause of direct deaths occurring within a year after the end of pregnancy
- It is the second largest cause of direct maternal deaths occurring during or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy
- It remains the fifth most common cause of women’s deaths during pregnancy and its immediate aftermath.
1 in 7 women who die between 6 weeks and 1 year after pregnancy are dying by suicide – click here for a summary of the MBRRACE UK report
Suicidal thoughts are often a symptom of depression, severe anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, hopelessness & more.
Mothers often feel scared or ashamed to talk to anyone about how they really feel. There is still a stigma surrounding mental health & the fear of their baby being taken from them; as well as the guilt that they feel like this.
In Devon we are lucky to have a specialist perinatal mental health team for women who are in the perinatal period & experiencing suicidal thoughts. Have a look at our ‘Looking after yourself’ page for more info on services available locally & nationally
Worried about someone?
We can all play our part when it comes to suicide prevention. Sometimes a short conversation can be enough to make a difference between a person choosing to act on their suicidal thoughts or not.
The advice ‘WAIT’ is a good way to remember how you can support someone who may be suicidal. It stands for:
W – watch out – for unusual changes in behavior or signs of distress. e.g. social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide.
This is especially important if they have had a baby within the last year, due to the risk of postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is a risk factor for maternal suicide & is a psychiatric emergency. Check out Action on Postpartum Psychosis for more info
A – Ask – “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” Asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it. In fact it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation
I – It will pass – assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time. Remind them that you love them & that these thoughts don’t make them a bad person
T – Talk to others – encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional
Where can I get support?
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide:
- Talk to a health professional, like your GP or health visitor.
- Go to A&E or your local hospital
- Call 999 or your local out of hours mental health service (in Devon the First Response Service can be contacted on 0300 555 5000)
- Call Samaritans on 116 123
But above all please know that you matter!
Your child/ren/family will not be better off without you
You can & will feel better someday
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.