Death and Statistics

They’re quite effective, I think – those “kill your speed, not a child”, or “don’t drink and drive” adverts we see on our televisions each year. Especially around Christmas, when there is a little too much festive spirit in our veins, and a stark reminder of how suddenly our loved ones can be snatched from us might make some otherwise thoughtless people leave the car at home.

No doubt, it is a horrible thing. And if we can prevent it we should try everything we can to do so. Perhaps it is a sign of success that the number of fatalities from road traffic accidents was at an all time low of 1,901 in 2011.

On the other hand, 2011 saw an increase of adult suicide rates, leading to 6,045 people completing suicide that year.

6045.  That’s over three times the number of deaths on the roads. And yet – where is the hard hitting television campaign to try and reduce these deaths?  Where is the imagery of the person alone and depressed at Christmas – reminding people to reach out to friends, families, neighbours in the holidays and see how they are? Where is the advertising reminding people that alcohol and drugs can worsen depressive states and increase risk of suicide?  People sharing stories of hope, pointing people to sources of help, encouraging people to talk.  Why is it the work of charities such as the Samaritans to offer help? Why not a national public health campaign?

Good work is being done on raising mental health awareness, and trying to get people asking for help, and talking about mental health in general. But the hardest fact of all is seldom stressed. Mental Health problems can sometimes, if untreated, or unrecognised, be fatal illnesses. People can lose hope and take their own lives, leading to an ever increasing circle of impact and increasing risk. Maybe we can’t prevent every one of those tragedies, but help is available. Things can, and do, improve. And the more we can do to help people to remember that in their darkest hours – the better.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please talk to someone. A friend, family member, your GP – or contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (UK) / 1850 60 90 90 (ROI) – or email jo@samaritans.org

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