This year is the first year that the University of Nottingham has officially recognised Suicide Awareness Week. Impact explains the significance and importance of this event, and explains to you places to seek help. Mental health and YOUR well-being are so important.
Contact Samartians: 116 123
Contact CALM: 0800 58 58 58
Within the year 2017/2018 , 95 students took their own lives across England and Wales. In recognition and solidarity with this Zoe Mackenzie, Nottingham SU’s equal opportunities and welfare officer laid 95 pairs of shoes across the Djangoly Terrace. It truly is a moving and bold statement and highlights the significance and importance of student well-being, particularly for those who know and have felt the detrimental impact suicide can have.
Student suicides within the university are not publicised as she mentioned. This often can lead to friends and family who knew the individual feeling as though the event were not recognised for happening. Surely if suicide and mental well-being were talked about and publicised more within the university, more people will talk about their mental health, and seek the help they need.
Suicide is currently the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK, with depression being a mental illness that does not discriminate and usually comes with no warning. In a society where phrases such as ‘man up’ and ‘boys will be boys’ still permeate our common discourse, stereotypes of masculinity have prevented many men from seeking help for depression. The notion that men should be the focal financial provider in their household and the emphasis placed on their financial success only adds to this stereotype, creating an unattainable standard and unhealthy mental pressures for a great deal of men. Figures collated by the Mental Health Foundation show that in 2017, 5,821 suicides were recorded in Britain, with 75% of these being males. In particular, within ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ communities, issues such as discrimination and feelings of isolation can increase this susceptibility to serious mental health problems.
“open discussion and a creation of awareness”
Despite the amount of depression diagnoses being higher for women, rates of suicide are significantly higher for men. This highlights the issue of the taboo around men seeking help with their mental health, with 46% of men with mental health concerns saying they are too ashamed or embarrassed to consult a doctor. Signs of depression are not always clear but psychological symptoms include lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness as well as continuous periods of low mood. There are many services out there offering help including CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) which is a leading movement against male suicide, in addition to Samaritans which is a free helpline. Regardless of gender, suicide and depression are undoubtedly important issues that need to be addressed for both men and women, something which can only be done with open discussion and a creation of awareness about the help available and the problems at the heart of this topic.
“Together we can help each other.”
What to Do If You Are Affected by the Aftermath of Suicide
Suicide of an individual leaves a gaping hole at a point which was once a solid brick wall. It acts as a ripple, exponentially spreading across all aspects of your life. It leaves so many unanswered questions.
Questions are natural and hard to deal with. They are also unanswerable. Perhaps write your questions down and carry them to a counsellor to discuss. But please. Remember. This is NOT YOUR FAULT. This cannot be emphasised enough.
The first step in progression from the event is counselling. Talking to someone about your innermost feelings is difficult and isn’t easy or fun. However, it gives you a space and environment in which you can voice your thoughts out loud. Almost allowing an open awareness of how you are progressing from the event.
Counselling does not take immediate effect, for some it takes months, for some over a few years. However, it is a major stepping stone it terms of you attempting to deal with the reality of what has happened. Further to this they may give you techniques to ground yourself.
Friends and Family
In some ways some feel like you lose a part of yourself when something like this happens however speaking to those who know you best also helps a great deal. Whether this be a cup of tea at 3 am and talking about how you are feeling, or just going out in the evening to the movies, going for lunch for a catch-up. Sometimes just pre-occupying yourself can help and allows you to focus on something else.
Sometimes normal everyday tasks such as talking, getting out of bed, attending lectures or doing shopping become a major challenge. Your friends and family are there to help you and to motivate you and check up on you.
Some time at home may also allow you time to settle back into a vague reality. Quite honestly, take a breath and have a break. Do not force yourself to do work, do not force yourself to do anything. Take time for yourself to do things you enjoy doing. Bake, cook, do art, listen to music. This is a process of self-healing.
Suicide is a complicated topic within religion. If you are religious talking to a religious representative of your religion (pundit, priest, rabbi etc) may allow you to reflect on your religious response or beliefs in regards to what has happened and may provide you some perspective. In addition to this , if you have a long-standing religious leader you are close with, meet them and have a discussion about it.
Attending the Funeral
This is a matter of personal preference and for some people it is seen as a necessity. For some, the funeral will provide closure and aids in personal progression.
It’s Going to Take Time
Overall this is an event which has a horrible and detrimental impact on an individual. Do not take it lightly and assume after two months you’ll be better. Take time, surround yourself with those you love and begin a process of self-healing.
Take the time you need to just be you.
If you or anyone you know are affected by the issues raised within this article, seek the help you need.
Contact the welfare representative of your department at https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/studentservices/services/student-welfare-support.aspx.
Talk to family or friends. Talk to a religious representative. Talk to a professor. Seek counselling, contact on +44 (0)115 951 3695 for the University of Nottingham’s counselling service.
Contact Samartians: 116 123
Contact CALM: 0800 58 58 58
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. The more we talk, the less pairs of shoes to be displayed at Djangoly Terrace next year. Together we can help each other.
Oliver Ekwalla and Inga Becker-Hansen
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