In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50 and for men and women aged 20-34. These figures are agreed upon by major charities, public bodies and governmental organisations, including the Office for National Statistics and the NHS. This has been the intractable reality for many years. In 2020, there were almost 5,000 deaths by suicide. While this may be small in comparison with causes such as heart disease, lung cancer and dementia, it is nevertheless an alarming figure for something that is entirely preventable.
There is some comfort in the fact that the numbers seem to remain steady; however, this should not encourage complacency, especially at a time when the longer-term effects of the pandemic have yet to be quantified. Neither should it fool us into seeing it as just another disease.
Suicide is different from any other cause of death. It is a symptom or an outcome, not an illness. The illness takes hold long before and it is a matter of mental rather than physical health, which is why it is important to characterise it in public health terms as entirely preventable. Suicide has been astutely described as a permanent solution to a temporary problem, with the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) committed to tackling the despairing impulses that drive people to this ultimate act of self-harm.
Mental health is a term that has entered the public discourse thanks to the openness of high-profile individuals and a more educated and mature approach to the subject in the print and broadcast media. Some conditions are diagnosable, such as general anxiety disorder, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as are extremely serious cases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Most of these are commonly treated with medication, sometimes in combination with dietary and lifestyle change; however, a mental health problem can often remain unidentified for years, leaving the sufferer vulnerable and alone.
Many other instances of poor mental health do not offer themselves up to these clinical diagnoses and people may not be aware that the ups and downs of daily life are plunging them into very deep troughs of anxiety and fear. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that if your thoughts and emotions are turning you away from social interactions and robbing you of the ability to face the day, you may be suffering from mental ill-health. The potential consequences of an untreated condition can be serious – if not now, then at some time in the future – which is what makes the work of the Campaign Against Living Miserably essential.
Too often the mentally ill cannot or will not acknowledge their situation, but the isolation that comes with this attitude is extremely dangerous. CALM seeks to combat this by bringing people together and encouraging them to talk, listen and share before it is too late. It is estimated that at least one in four people will suffer mental health problems at some time in their life, which shows that it is completely unnecessary to suffer in silence. Solitude is dangerous; fellowship is healing.
rmg digital is immensely proud of its association with this charity, which is carrying out vital work to promote and improve mental health and build a united front against suicide. We recognise that the working environment is a hugely significant part of life and that businesses have the opportunity and the responsibility to play their part in supporting the talent in their employ. We promote the creation of a working culture that is non-judgmental, where all stigmas have been eliminated, and where employees are educated to appreciate the risks and the signs of mental distress. We encourage employers to spread the word through explicit policy statements, newsletters and awareness programmes, and we thoroughly recommend signing up to CALM’s partnering and charity of the year schemes. The workplace is a fellowship, and fellowship is healing.
Contact CALM today if you are one of the many people struggling – call 0800 585858 between 5pm and midnight, 365 days a year. Learn all about CALMs important work at https://www.thecalmzone.net and get involved if you would like to help.