One of the biggest causes of death is not talking

NOTE: May trigger!

“One of the biggest cause of death is not talking. “

A strange statement? Not when you look at the statistics and the facts.

Today the Scottish Association of Mental Health launched their ‘Two too many’ campaign.

Why ‘Two too many’? Well, each day two people die by suicide in Scotland and ‘Two people lost to suicide in Scotland each day is ‘Two too many’. 

Are you surprised by that?

Well, here is one that you may be even more surprised by.

” Four times as many people die by suicide than in road traffic accidents.”

Crazy, huh?

That is one reason that I am particularly happy to see this campaign. My home country is Ireland. I remember reading a similar statistic about deaths by suicides versus deaths by road accidents in Ireland many years ago. At the same time, there was a massive road safety campaign by the Road Safety Authority (Ireland). And I could not understand why there wasn’t a similar campaign for suicide prevention. Perhaps there was – if there was, it wasn’t even nearly as big as the road safety campaign one, and if there was, it certainly passed me by.

There could be many reasons for this. I have discussed them with others on a number of occasions. There seems to be one idea that people seem to think is the main reason for the lack of a national campaign for suicide prevention. This is the idea that:

“If we talk about suicide, we will put the idea in people’s heads. “

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Very wrong.

It is saddening that in 2012 so many still think this. But I believe that the Scottish Association of Mental Health’s (SAMH’s) ‘Two too many’ campaign is a massive step in the right direction.

Even just tonight, I saw someone tweet SAMH saying: Could put the idea in despairing person’s head and make them think about doing it.

Research has shown that this is very far from being the truth.

You don’t give someone the idea of suicide just by talking about it.

In fact, it is talking about suicide that will save lives.

Please read this and remember it:

It is common to avoid the topic of suicide. Other people watch what we say and do. If they never hear us talking about suicide in a serious, open and direct manner, they are not likely to talk to us about suicide – even if they need help with thoughts of suicide.  (Credit: Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid)

Feeling suicidal is not something to be ashamed of. Feeling suicidal is normal. Normal, you say? Yes it is! Feeling suicidal is a normal reaction to emotional distress. The majority of those who are suicidal do not actually want to die. Instead, they are experiencing extreme emotional distress and see suicide as their only way out. And when someone can see no other way to end their emotional pain, it is a very human thing for thoughts to resort to suicide.

But as long as we continue treating suicide as something that we must not talk about, the less people will be likely to speak out and get the help they need.

Instead, if people see others talking about it they will hopefully see:

  • that many people feel suicidal but do not act on it
  • that they are not the only person to feel this way
  • that if other people can be open in talking about it, then it must be ok to talk about it
  • that if other people have been suicidal and aren’t ashamed of admitting it, then perhaps it is not something to be ashamed of after all and
  • that there are ways to get help and there is a lot of support out there to help with thoughts of suicide.

I am a testament to this.

I insist on being open about having being very suicidal for a long time and about having attempted suicide on a number of occasions.

One common affect is that it let others see that others around them struggle with suicidal thoughts, that others in their lives have attempted suicide, and that they are still here and are doing well.

And on a number of occasions something wonderful has happened – that is that people in my life have opened up to me, about their own thoughts of suicide. I am certain that they would not have chosen me to open up to if they had not known about my own personal experience with the subject. And if they chose me to speak to because of my personal experience with suicide – would they have gone to anyone if they had not known about my personal experience, if this had not enabled them to feel able to talk to me? Or would they have continued to keep this to themselves, continue to struggle alone, and perhaps for things to escalate even further?

Watch this video from SAMH and see what you think.

What struck you most about this video?

For me, it was the fact that this young man seemed so normal, so happy. But no one walks round with ‘I feel suicidal’ written on their forehead. And those who feel suicidal do often appear very happy to outsiders.

The number of people who die by suicide is far too high.

But the number of people who struggle with suicidal thoughts is far, far higher.

We may not be able to reduce the number of people who consider suicide, but the biggest way to reduce the number of people who die by suicide is to talk about suicide!

Let this be the start of a change. A big change. Not just within Scotland, but much further afield.

Let’s start talking.

Let’s show that it’s ok to talk about suicide.

Let’s show that it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Let’s stop this taboo.

Let’s save lives!!!



If you found this article helpful, you may also find the following useful:

Media myths about suicide – a guide

Media guidelines about the reporting of suicide

Other related blog posts:

Some important points about suicide

Often there just is no ‘why’ 

Scary to think what I may have missed out on 

Dear suicidal thoughts…

One year on

This entry was posted in Scottish Association of Mental Health, suicide, Two too many. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to One of the biggest causes of death is not talking

  1. chris says:

    Hiya, glad to see you keep going. I followed you on twitter but I was hacked. Still get a lot from.reading you. I really want to go now, wish it could be taken out of my hands.

    • Amanda says:

      Glad you are still going. Sorry you were hacked, but please keep reading.

      If you are feeling this way, please reach out and get help.

      I felt that way too for so long and now I don’t.

      I still will feel that way sometimes, but that is ok. They are just thoughts and I can cope with them and don’t need to act on them. You can get through this too. Please get help.

      • chris says:

        I try but I just feel like my only psychiatric help doesn’t believe me. I am just so tired, I won’t upset my mother she meAn so much to me.

        • Amanda says:

          It will be even more upset if you are not here. I know that is probably just adding more pressure and I’m not meaning it that way. It is probably something you have thought of yourself…

          But even if your only psychiatric help is no help, would it be worth changing to a different GP practice / asking for a referral to a different psychiatrist?

          And don’t forget Samaritans there 24 hrs a day to talk to, keep doing what you can, you’re doing great!

  2. Paul Winkler ( says:

    I read this stuff earlier on the SAMH site – a *great* campaign! Very exciting! Although I could not read the stories in the Sunday Mail (you need to pay for the online version – nuts!) I look forward to seeing the advertising shorts from STV later this evening when I have time.

    And a little comment to Chris who’s dealing with a depressive cycle right now: Chris, I hope you will try the Samaritans, as I think they are fantastic. If that is not enough, and you really need a break from life’s pressures, can you arrange a visit to the nearest psych ward? I have found that an admission takes a huge load off. Even if their reputation is not very good, they take the responsibility being lifted off, allowing a chance for recovery. Remember, a lot of us have been where you are ourselves! There is hope!

  3. Lottie says:

    Talking about suicide is a taboo subject….and wrongly, I think people think if you talk to them about your feelings on being suicidal they might catch it! I don’t talk about it to no one really in the real world, my CPN and the team no only the tip…Im never “honest” about how severe the urges/desires are…I never share my “plans” or information because the risks are to high.

    It is good to see that the SAMHS are doing something proactive, and I’ve seen from your tweets you’re helping them along x

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  5. I got taught this at my nightline training, we are told to address suicide directly, rather than skirting around the topic, as research has shown that mentioning suicide does not make people more likely to commit suicide. You’re doing such a good thing trying to raise awareness! xx

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