Be a champion, help prevent suicide

This World Suicide Prevention Day (Sunday 10 September), Calderdale Council is encouraging local people to challenge the stigma of suicide and learn what they can do to help prevent it, by becoming a Suicide Prevention Champion.

The campaign is run by West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership and urges everyone over 18 to sign up and pledge their support to reduce West Yorkshire’s above-average suicide rate.

Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Public Health, has become Calderdale’s first Suicide Prevention Champion. He said:

“Every life lost to suicide is one too many. Together, we can prevent suicide and the devastating impact it has on individuals, families and communities. 

“Calderdale Council is proud to have supported the development of the regional Suicide Prevention Champions campaign, and I am equally proud to have signed up to become a Champion.

“My pledge is to take an active role in raising awareness to help create a place where fewer people die by suicide, and challenging stigma to make it easier for people to seek help. This will build on the work of the Calderdale Suicide Prevention Group and West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership to bring down the region’s higher-than-average suicide rate.

“However big or small your pledge may be, you can share some kindness and make a difference. Please consider joining the growing team of Suicide Prevention Champions to help spread the word and encourage suicide prevention action at home and in your community or workplace.”

The latest figures from the Government’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities show that both West Yorkshire and Calderdale continue to have a higher suicide rate than England as a whole, with a rolling three-year rate in registered suicide deaths of 13.2 per 100,000 people in West Yorkshire and 16.9 per 100,000 in Calderdale, compared to 10.4 per 100,000 nationally.

Reducing suicide is one of the four priorities in Calderdale’s Wellbeing Strategy, and Calderdale’s Suicide Prevention Strategy sets out the action being taken to achieve this. The strategy also feeds into the wider work across West Yorkshire to help reduce the rate and impact of suicide locally and regionally.

Becoming a Suicide Prevention Champion is quick and free. You will learn how to spot the signs that someone might be struggling, feel more confident to talk about suicide, and how to signpost someone to the right support. 

Manuel Benages from Halifax has joined Cllr Tim Swift in becoming a Calderdale and West Yorkshire Suicide Prevention Champion. Manuel said:

“I’ve been to some dark places in my life and lost so many people I loved to suicide. Eventually it all got too much and I tried to end my own life. Thankfully I survived, and it was a real turning point. I realised I had to change, but asking for help is really hard when you’re at your lowest. Not everyone wants to sit and talk about their problems.

“That’s why, after dealing with my own demons, I started Get Fit 4 Mental Wellness. We deal with the person not the problem, and offer a range of support from gentle yoga, to boxing, to life changing group programmes and 1-1 counselling – all free to people who need it.

“There is still too much stigma around talking about mental health and admitting you need help. Which is why I’m so proud to become a West Yorkshire Suicide Prevention Champion, and urge others to do the same. We can all do our little bit to help tackle that stigma and look out for each other before reaching a point of crisis like I did.”

To become a Suicide Prevention Champion, please sign up at link), watch a 20-minute suicide awareness video by the Zero Suicide Alliance, and make a pledge on how you plan to promote suicide prevention and challenge the stigma of suicide.

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of someone who lives in West Yorkshire, or want more information on support available for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, please visit: link)

If you have been bereaved or impacted by suicide, free, professional and compassionate support is available to all Calderdale residents over 18, through Leeds Mind Suicide Bereavement Services. Visit link) or call 0113 305 5800.

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