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Free drop-in session on mental health support to be held in Inverness ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day

By Federica Stefani

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A free drop-in event will be organised ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day.
A free drop-in event will be organised ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day.

A free drop in event will be held in Inverness to share experiences and learn about mental health support available in the region ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day.

Organised by the Highland Community Planning Partnership, the event will be held on Friday, September 8 at the Botanic Gardens in Inverness, between 11am and 3pm.

In Highland council area, there were 42 probable suicide deaths in 2022 compared to 40 in 2021 and 44 in 2020.

The five-year average number of deaths in Highland for 2018-2022 was 50, compared to 39 in 2013-2017. The standardised rate of suicide (per 100,000 population) in Highland in 2018-2022 was higher than the national average for both males and females.

Mental Health Delivery Group Chair, Kathy Steer said: “As a group we recognise that every person lost to suicide is a tragedy, for their loved ones, their colleagues, and society. Research suggests that open and honest communication about mental ill-health helps towards suicide prevention. Conversations have the power to increase awareness and understanding, remind people they are not alone and help break the stigma which can be a barrier for those seeking help."

A Highland Council spokesperson said: "Every year, people around the world come together on the 10 September to raise awareness of suicide prevention and discuss and share practices on how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.

"This year the focus is creating ‘hope through action’ and with directed support and greater public awareness and education of mental health and suicide the Highland Community Planning Partnership collectively aim to reduce deaths by suicide across Highland, by encouraging open and honest conversations at a local level to help reduce the stigma around poor mental health and suicide.

"Suicide is preventable, it’s not inevitable, but not being okay is still widely stigmatised. Across Highland we can all play our part in making better, more ambitious plans to prevent suicide.

They continued: "The reality is at any one time, 1 in around 20 people are contemplating suicide. On average, 2 people go on to take their own life every day in Scotland. These aren’t just statistics. It’s a loss of a person’s life, someone’s family, their friends, and their work colleagues.

"While caution is needed in interpreting changes in incidence over the short term, it is important to acknowledge that suicide deaths were lower in 2022 than in 2019. This is despite the adverse impact of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis on people’s mental health, which might have been expected to lead to an increase in suicide."

Support in relation to suicide, can be found by calling Samaritans on 116 123 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87

Other local support groups include:

● Mikeysline - 07786 207755

● James Support group - 07563 572 471 (24-hour helpline)

● Ewen’s Room - 01967 401130

● Lochaber Hope – 01397 704836

The partnership has also produced the Prevent Suicide Highland Smartphone App, which provides guidance for members of the public as to what they can do to help someone experiencing mental distress and perhaps contemplating suicide.

The app can be downloaded on Google Play and The App Store and offers local key contacts, and a safety plan template to help keep you, or others, safe. There is also information and support for those who have been bereaved by suicide.

For information on local Suicide Intervention and Prevention Programme training visit: Highland Mental Wellbeing – A collection of resources to support mental wellbeing.

On Saturday, September 9, an event at the Victorian Market will also aim to raise awareness on mental health and support Mikeysline.

It will run from 4pm to 8pm, with live music and donations to te charity welcome on the day.

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