Surviving Suicidal Thoughts – sharing personal stories for support.  

NHS 24 and the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) are offering new support to people living with thoughts of suicide or plans to end their own life.

Short video clips are hosted on NHS inform, where people from across Scotland tell their individual stories. The people featured generously share the ways they have found to live past their suicidal thoughts or intentions. The aim is to offer people in this situation support to better manage these thoughts and to find hope..

The videos are presented alongside information on how to listen and talk about suicidal feelings. There is advice on ways to cope when it feels as though you can’t, and what warning signs to look for as well as how to reach urgent help via 999, the Samaritans or 111.

NHS 24 Director of Service Delivery, Janice Houston said:

“Our first priority is offering a compassionate service to everyone that contacts us about their mental health, and we know that some people would prefer to listen than to talk – at least at first.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer this option to people experiencing thoughts of suicide and our thanks go to those who have shared their journeys so generously.

“For anyone who is concerned for themselves or anyone else, we encourage you to listen to these stories and to find someone who can listen to you – whether that is a friend, colleague or family member, or one of the specialist helplines available 24/7.”

NSPLG chair Rose Fitzpatrick CBE QPM said: “We are committed to exploring innovations in digital technology to help save lives from the tragedy of suicide. The creation of the new Surviving Suicidal Thoughts resource on the NHS Inform website represents a significant step towards better supporting those who are having suicidal thoughts and their loved ones.

 “This new resource, developed with our partners at NHS 24, is intended to help those thinking about suicide and those who are supporting someone who may be suicidal.  It features people who have themselves known these tough times describing what they experienced and what has helped each of them get through.

 “We hope these compelling personal stories will encourage people experiencing suicidal thoughts to know that they can get through such dark moments and will also provide information for others on how to support someone who may be suicidal.  We believe that suicide prevention can be everyone’s business.”

NSPLG Lived Experience Panel member Neil Renton features in one of the videos and is urging people to seek help by talking about their mental health.

Recalling his own story, he said: “Currently I feel really good mentally, but it’s not always been like that.

“I think the thing that caught me out was I wasn’t expecting to feel as bad as I did. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what made me feel depressed and low and took me to feel suicidal.

He added: “I think I was in denial because there wasn’t anything that set it off or triggered it, I came from a loving family, I’m well-supported, life and soul of the party. I felt I didn’t have an excuse so I found it really difficult to appreciate that I could have been suffering mentally.

“It was a struggle to be open and honest with others, be it my wife, family, medical people, friends and colleagues as well. You were always worried you were going to be judged, people would look at you differently.

“I remember what it was like when I was suicidal and just felt like there was nothing else I could do.

“I’d hate for anybody to be in the position I was in. I could see it like an edge I was running towards and no obstacle could stop me.

“My family would be like a wall I would smash through, my friends barbed wire I could jump over and there was nothing stopping me getting to that edge.

“And I just remember thinking: ‘I really need to say something at this point or that’s me gone’.

“I was dreaming up this big speech to my wife that I wanted to be poignant and memorable, but I simply said: ‘I’m struggling’. Those two words were all it took.

“We talked for hours, I gained confidence, felt supported and from there I got the help I needed and continue to work on my mental health to this day.

“Please talk about it.”

The content is for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide. It is for those around them, family, friends, work mates and others too. The full stories are also on the NHS 24 YouTube channel.