Mental health charity Pieta has noted the far-reaching impact of the pandemic after recording a 25% rise in calls to its helpline last month.
Calls and texts to the charity’s helpline directly relating to suicide, self-harm and suicide bereavement rose by 25% in December 2020 vs. December 2019. Pieta is expecting the pandemic burden to continue into 2021.
Covid-19’s far-reaching impact is more than a physical threat; it has impacted everything from people’s financial stability to their social habits. The charity says that people are struggling with loneliness; a fact that is worsened with physical distance measures in place.
Ahead of ‘Blue Monday’ this week, Pieta has set out to help people identify the ‘signs of suicide’.
Typically speaking, January 18th is known as Blue Monday. Why? Because the mid-month date is associated with failed New Year’s resolutions, cold and damp weather with little sunlight, but this single day should not be marked as the cause or side effect of depression.
Depression and suicidal ideation runs much deeper and for many, any day could be considered ‘Blue Monday’ as mental health issues can happen anytime so it is important to not view this day lightly and instead, make sure you check in regularly on a loved one who may be struggling.
Most people who talk or think about suicide simply want to stop the pain they feel, so knowing what signs to listen and watch out for is crucial:
Signs to listen for:
Engaging in self-harm or risk-taking behaviour
Talking or writing about hurting themselves, dying or saying that they want to die
Talking about ways to die or having a suicide plan
Saying that they are ‘trapped’ or have no options in their life
Saying they have no purpose in their life, that they feel hopeless
Signs to watch out for:
Giving items away or saying goodbye to people
Becoming more inward looking and withdrawing from family and friends
Changes in sleep patterns – too much or too little sleep
Extreme emotions or dramatic changes in mood
Increasing use of drugs or alcohol.
Speaking about the ‘Know the Signs of Suicide’ campaign, Emma Dolan, Clinical Director at Pieta, said; “We are calling on the public to look beyond ‘Blue Monday’ and familiarise themselves with the life-saving steps to recognise suicidal ideation. Any day of the year can be a challenge for people living with mental health issues so please use this day to think about how you can break down the stigma and raise awareness of these preventative measures. In Pieta we have been humbled by the overwhelming generosity of the public with so much good work being done over the past year. Our services continued throughout the pandemic and the various lockdowns we hope that the public will support us in our continued efforts throughout 2021.”
Knowing the signs allows you to then follow three simple steps, A.P.R. (Ask – Persuade – Refer) – and just like CPR, it can save a life.
If someone opens up to you, don’t be afraid to Ask them directly if they are thinking of suicide or want to kill themselves. Talking to them openly and honestly is one of the best things you can do. Even just listening is one of the most powerful tools available. Once you have asked the question, calmly and gently Persuade them to seek help or to allow you to assist them in getting help. If you cannot persuade them, remember that Pieta’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline is open 24 hours day. As soon as you can, Refer or guide them to Pieta – if you can, make the call with them or travel with them to the appointment.
Pieta’s professional counsellors specialise in suicide prevention and tackling self-harm. The charity has centres all over Ireland and Pieta’s Freephone Crisis Helpline is open 24/7. All services are provided free of charge and no referral is needed.
For more information and help visit www.pieta.ie