Supporting each other

In August 2021, Health and Safety3 MinutesBy Tracey MurphySeptember 29, 2021

I want to talk about a sensitive subject – mental wellbeing. In the past few months, I am aware of five people who have committed suicide. These were people in their early 20s to mid-30s, just beginning their lives. I’m fortunate in that none of them were family or close friends. But they were all family and friends of people I know and care about, and I feel their devastation. One of the questions is always, “What could I have done…?”

It can be challenging identifying when a person is struggling to such an extent that they see the only way to stop the pain is to end their lives. Sometimes, that person might say they are considering suicide. If we do see or hear that, many of us don’t know what to do in case we make it worse. We believe we should leave it for the professionals but don’t know how to contact help.

The first step comes with noticing that someone isn’t themselves; they may have become isolated, moody, don’t appear to be coping, have weight gains or losses, or they may be using drugs or alcohol. Talk to the person, say that they don’t seem to be themselves lately, ask if you can talk with them. Take them out of their environment to talk – a cup of coffee or a walk in the park.

The important thing is to let them know that you care and that there is help for them; let them know that they are valuable in your life and the lives of others. Helping the person feel less alone could support them in making better decisions.

If their lives are in immediate danger, you need to act quickly and call the police. They will manage the situation for you.

There is more information about the different ways that a person at risk may present, how you can support them and the help available to them. The Ministry of Health website has excellent resources on suicide prevention.

About Tracey Murphy

Tracey Murphy is the owner and director of Safewise, a health and safety consultancy. She has more than 12 years experience working with organisations from many different industries. Tracey holds a diploma in health and safety management and a graduate diploma in occupational safety and health. She is a professional member of the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management and is on the HASANZ register.

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