Big sports clubs and stadiums can prevent suicides..
Here’s big serious idea for sports clubs and stadiums to:
- raise awareness about mental health and suicide,
- help people deal with suicidal feelings,
- reduce attempted suicides, and basically,
- save lots of people from taking their own lives.
This is a very simple idea.
Every day, especially at weekends, millions of people go to sports stadiums to watch events such as football/soccer, rugby, cricket, baseball, American football, ice hockey, athletics, and music concerts, etc.
Among all audiences there will be some people silently and secretively contemplating suicide, and also friends/family of these people.
People who take their own lives typically do not talk about their suicidal feelings. This is mostly due to shame/stigma, self-imposed isolation, secrecy, etc. This causes many people to take their own lives, while nobody knew that the person was suicidal.
However, many people with suicidal feelings will reveal clues or information about their emotional state, if another person asks directly how they are feeling and is attentive in hearing the reply.
Often an external intervention that refers to suicide such as a film, or TV programme, can very helpfully prompt some discussion between someone struggling and a friend or family member. This very definitely can save someone’s life.
So, why not have a person with lived experience of suicide talk about their experience at half-time?
And within this talk, suggest to everyone in the crowd to ask the person next to them, “How are you?”
This will give some people opportunity and ‘permisssion’ to talk about how they are feeling. And this begins to save lives.
Starting to talk about suicidal thoughts is a crucial stage in avoiding suicide. When people talk about the possibility of taking their own life, this exposes the subject and allows vital reaction from another person, and also opens the way for remedial action.
For many people, simply talking about their feelings, is enough to lift some of the anxiety, and to prevent secrecy and shame spiralling invisibly out of control into serious risk.
It’s important to realise that many suicidal people become deluded in their secrecy and isolation, so that they believe it to be a good idea to kill themselves. Commonly suicidal people have desperately low self-esteeem. They feel very unwanted, useless and ashamed. Talking with friends and family exposes this deluded thinking, and also offers opportunity for a friend or family member to explain the horrific consequences that would result from a suicide.
You see, suicidal people commonly believe they are doing everyone a favour by killing themselves. They believe they will not be missed or mourned.
There is also now lots of evidence from suicide attempt survivors, that generally the suicide attempt was regretted immediately it was made. (For example, the very few surviving suicidal jumpers from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge generally report that they regretted jumping the moment their hands let go of the rail…)
Societies everywhere tend to believe that suicide can only be prevented by ‘experts’, doctors, psychiatrists, etc., but this is grossly wrong. Everyone – every human – can prevent suicide.
Here is wonderful free online 20minute training for anyone to understand how to save someone from suicide.
Moreover, every stadium audience will contain professional listeners and counsellors: people trained to listen and help people with suicidal thoughts. These people could wear ‘listener’ bibs that they’d pick up from a big pile when they enter the stadium, if they want to volunteer to be an available ‘listener’ at the event.
People with lived experience of suicide – there are very many – are often very happy to talk about it, and particularly to help others. And so recruiting volunteers to talk at half-time would never be a problem.
The biggest cause of suicide, besides all the underlying causes of stress, depression, anxiety, and other life-threatening conditions, is the taboo of suicide, and mental illneess; the shame and stigma, so that sufferers dare not talk about their feelings. And this kills people.
- Global suicide rates are approximately one person per 10,000 people per year. This is the UK average too.
- There are about 6,000 reported suicides every year in the UK. The UK population is about 65million people. World suicide reported totals are about 800,000 per year, in a world population of about 7.5billion.
- Actual suicides numbers are significantly more than reported suicides, mainly for reasons of shame and stigma, i.e., suicides are greatly under-reported because many suicides are recorded/reported as accidents. It is reasonable to suggest that global suicides actually total one million per year, or more.
- Male-Female ratio of suicides in the UK is about 3:1, and in most countries of the world this ratio is 3:1 or higher.
- Here are suicide rates internationally.
- Big sports stadiums often attract audiences of 30,000-40,000 people and more.
- Usually men are a big majority in crowds watching football, rugby, cricket, etc. This includes many middle-aged men, who are in the highest suicide risk group.
- Given suicide rates and ratios, and the demographics of stadium crowds, suicide rates among audiences in big sports stadiums are likely to be more than one person per 10,000.
- A feature of most suicides is that the suicidal person is probably not undergoing any treatment (75% of UK suicides are by people not in treatment). This is because shame and stigma prevents people (especially men) from discussing their feelings, particularly when feelings become life-threatening. This happens for women too, and teenagers and young people.
This is a very simple idea to get suicide out into the open, where people can talk about it, and remove the shroud that keeps it hidden and so dangerous.
Please contact us if you can help develop this idea into a project.
At the time of writing this (August 2018) the average waiting time for referral to suicidal crisis support via UK health services is 23 days.
People who attempt suicide are routinely sent home by A&E departments, at which they simply kill themselves at the next attempt.
It is not difficult to save very many people from suicide, if we simply open ourselves to others – as fellow humans, and as communities, and as sports and concert crowds.
Many people – on being saved – begin to recover and start to see life differently. They can receive help and support from friends and family. They can be referred to, and can begin to understand, the many ways that they can make simple changes to their lives that will dramatically reduce pressures that were causing suicidal feelings.
In India 100,000 people die by suicide every year. A million people die by suicide globally every year.
Suicide kills more people than wars and murders combined.
In the UK the economic cost of every adult suicide is £1.7million, plus the societal and emotional cost.
Suicides often produce other suicides, notably in close families.
Governments everywhere have little idea what to do about suicide, and also the mental health iceberg that sits beneath suicides.
Suicide is rising fastest among young people.
We need to be more creative and determined in finding solutions. It’s no use leaving it to governments and health services, and there’s no need anyway in very many cases.
First we simply need to start talking about suicide, and enabling those battling with suicidal thoughts to believe it’s ok to talk about it too.