A 'reinvigorated' National Suicide Prevention Strategy launched last week should alert pharmacies to those they come into contact with who are most at risk of suicide. It is well known that pharmacy staff engage with people who have little or no other access to other healthcare providers so being aware of what factors lead to a person taking their own life and where they can get help is essential for every Healthy Living Pharmacy.
Suicide is the biggest killer in men under the age of 50 with high rates also seen in young people and women after giving birth whilst almost half of all trans people (those who do not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth) attempt suicide at some point during their life. Elderly people living alone, those with depression or other mental health conditions, drug misusers on heroin or crack cocaine and the unemployed are also at increased risk yet these are also the kind of people encountered by pharmacy teams on a daily basis. With reports of failing NHS mental health services in the news most days, pharmacies need to familiarise themselves with local and national charities and support groups who can help turn lives around.
Established over 60 years ago, Samaritans provides round the clock support to those contemplating suicide and can be accessed on the phone, email or by dropping in to a local centre. Similarly MIND, the mental health charity are available to those with mental health conditions and are well equipped to deal with crisis situations. Helplines such as Childline for children and Papyrus for teenagers and young adults are also well established whilst the Campaign for Against Living Miserably (CALM) provides valuable advice and support for vulnerable young men.