If you can read between the lines, you can save lives

Choose Life campaign continues to support Suicide Prevention Week in Edinburgh.

If you can read between the lines, you can save lives. That’s the message Choose Life is sending out to people in Edinburgh to mark Suicide Prevention Week (7–12 September).

Last year 60 people in Edinburgh took their own lives, leaving a lasting impact on families, friends and communities.

Choose Life is tackling this through its ‘Read between the lines’ campaign, which calls on everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. The message is that if you’re worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.

The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be ambiguous, but encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously, even if the person seems to be living a normal life. It also aims to assure people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, Convener of Health, Social Care and Housing, said: 

“You tend to know when someone close to you isn’t quite themselves. So if you notice any changes in their behaviour that worry you – even if the signs come and go – ask them about it.

“You’ll find that talking can help a person get clarity about what it is that’s troubling them, and often gives a sense of perspective. Starting a conversation is half the battle. You don’t need to have an answer to their problems – just be there for them, try to listen carefully without judging, and show that you care.”

The campaign targets men and women who are likely to be in greatest contact with people most at risk of suicide – men aged 30-59, since statistics show that around three quarters of suicides have been men in every year since 1990.

To support people in Edinburgh to get behind the campaign, Choose Life has  widely available information cards with simple ‘how to help’ steps, and leaflets such as the Art of Conversation which gives advice on starting conversations about suicide and listening effectively.

Raising awareness of suicide prevention and giving the public information is a vital part of the Choose Life work. A host of activities are taking place in Edinburgh during Suicide Prevention Week, including:

  • Free Film with a suicide theme (Little Miss Sunshine) on Wednesday 7 September at 6pm at the Filmhouse, with a post film discussion.
  • Choose Life Challenge Cup on Saturday 10 September from 9.30am to 12.30pm at the Hibernian FC Training Centre, Ormiston, East Lothian, EH35 5NG. Come along and support the tournament, and find out about the issues and local services. To register a team to play in the event, call John Murphy: 0131 663 1616.
  • Non-denominational service for those touched by suicide on Sunday 11 September at 3pm at St Augustine’s Church, George the IV Bridge.

Scotland’s suicide rate has been decreasing since 2002 with the latest figures showing that that they are at their lowest level since the 1970’s. Choose Life in Edinburgh has made a key contribution by this year to date, suicide prevention training has been delivered to professionals, volunteers, school children and at risk groups. Last year, around 500 people received this training. Edinburgh is on course to exceed that figure this year. Three ‘suicide alertness’ safeTALK training sessions will be delivered during this year’s Suicide Prevention Week alone.



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