Suicide prevention

The #AlrightPal? suicide prevention campaign is all about encouraging people to spot the signs of when a friend, colleague, family member or even a stranger in the street, might not be okay.

It’s a myth that talking about suicide is a bad idea as it will give somebody the idea to do it. In reality, people at crisis point often feel as though they don’t want to burden people with their problems, so they don’t discuss it. Asking somebody a simple question to check they’re alright offers support. Make sure they know you’re sincere and ask twice if you have to.

How to help

Simply asking somebody if they’re alright gives them the opportunity to open up. Here are some simple things to remember:

Take it seriously

It can feel embarrassing and exposing to talk about your thoughts and feelings, especially if they’re disturbing. Don’t laugh or treat it like a joke. However strange it might seem to you, remember it’s real to them.

Listen and reflect

You don’t have to have all the answers – just listening can make a big difference.

Try and show that you’re taking on board what they’re saying. You can do this by reflecting – that is, saying something simple like “that sounds really difficult”. You could also say something like “thanks for telling me”, to show that you appreciate having the conversation.

Ask questions

We worry about prying when it comes to others’ mental health, but it’s better to ask questions. It can help them to get things off their chest, and by keeping the conversation going it shows that you care.

Some of the questions you might ask:

  • “What does it feel like?”
  • “What kind of thoughts are you having?”
  • “How can I help?"

Don’t try and fix it

It’s human nature to want to fix things, but expecting things to change right away isn’t helpful. It’s not your job to make their mental health problem go away – it’s often more helpful just to listen, ask open questions and do things you’d normally do together.

When somebody does open up to you: Listen, take them seriously, offer reassurance and advise them to speak to their GP. #AlrightPal?

The Samaritans and Mind also offer confidential support and advice about wellbeing. 

Looking after our own mental health

We all have mental health, just like we have physical health and it’s important that we take steps to look after it. The following steps, known as the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, are easy and can be incorporated into our daily lives almost straight away.

1. Be Active

Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and it doesn’t have to be intense to make a difference. Do as much or as little as you can – you could try walking, dancing, running, cycling or gardening. For ideas, see our Sport and Leisure pages.

2. Connect

People who are connected with family, friends or people living in their community are generally happier, healthier, live longer and have fewer mental health problems. To connect with others, you could join a group, help a friend, family member or colleague or try volunteering. For ideas, see Live Well Barnsley.

3. Give

It has been proven that people who offer an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period report an improvement in their wellbeing. Giving could be smiling at someone and saying thank you. It could be volunteering within the local community or doing something nice for a colleague or friend. You can also find a range of volunteering opportunities with us and our partners.

4. Keep Learning

People should never stop learning. Learning throughout life enhances self-esteem, increases confidence, encourages social interaction and generally leads to people having a more active life. Why not learn a new skill like cooking, playing an instrument, fixing a bike, photography or painting. Our Adult Learning courses cover a range of interests. You might also find something to interest you on Live Well Barnsley.

5. Take Notice

Life can be very busy with little time to stop and reflect. Studies have shown that when people are aware of what is taking place in the present it directly enhances wellbeing. People worry less about the future and what has happened in the past and can see what really matters, allowing them to make positive choices. Stopping and observing, spending time with friends and family, enjoying nature, and taking a different route home from work or the shops noticing what is different are all ways to take notice. Our museums and galleries are free and provide the perfect spaces to take time out and reflect.