Preventing suicide in the legal community

This year’s World Mental Health Day (10th October) focuses on suicide prevention.

Suicide remains something of a taboo, especially in professional circles. We need to encourage a more open culture in the law where people talk about their feelings and ask for help. If you are worried about someone you work with, or a friend or family member you should always attempt to talk to them. It is absolutely not the case that asking about suicide precipitates the action of suicide.  Rather it shows the person you genuinely care, are interested in their welfare and want to help. Talking could make a real difference.

Signs to look out for in yourself or others

These are not exhaustive and some people will show no significant signs.

  • Changes in behaviour e.g. mood swings, sleeping/eating patterns, becoming angry, negative, depressed
  • Out of character reckless behaviour, e.g. giving away all possessions,
  • increased use of drugs or alcohol, excessive spending
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of energy
  • Neglecting grooming and personal hygiene
  • Suddenly appearing very calm or relieved after a period of depression
  • Settling affairs and saying goodbye
  • Talking about suicide or dying

How to have a conversation with someone you believe to be suicidal

  • Ask – have you thought about suicide? Be direct
  • Use simple, direct questions in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way.
  • Listen to the response
  • Keep talking to the person telling them they are not alone and you want to help
  • Follow your instinct
  • Ask if you can assist them to access help and support by calling a family member, the emergency services, a helpline or their GP
  • If you believe there is an immediate risk do not leave the person alone if you are in the same room, but do be mindful of your own personal safety
  • If you are talking to them on the phone use another phone to let the police know

If you have thought of suicide

  • Talk to someone – a friend, your GP, a helpline
  • Be around other people
  • Go to a safe place such as a friend's house, a Samaritans drop in centre
  • Try not to think about the future – just focus on getting through today
  • Remember drugs and alcohol are not a solution and may make you feel worse
  • Do something you usually enjoy

Call LawCare’s free, independent, confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888 for immediate support for yourself or visit www.lawcare.org.uk to access webchat, email support and useful factsheets and information. You can also contact us if you are worried about a colleague and are unsure how to support them.

Other resources

Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123
Samaritans 

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
CALM Homepage

Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41
Papyrus Homepage

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
Call 0300 111 5065

Suicide Bereaved Network
Call 0300 999 0003

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