Olivia Moore who leads our Lawscot Wellbeing work discusses how employers and individuals can get involved in World Suicide Prevention Day 2020.

Every year World Suicide Prevention Day, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), is marked on 10 September. This gives us all the opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and reflect on how we can help support people who might be at risk. It’s a truly global problem, with suicide being in the top 20 causes of death annually for people of all ages, responsible for 800,000 deaths and touching so many lives left behind.

We know that colleagues in the legal profession want to engage in key issues relating to wellbeing from our recent research that we collaborated on with See Me. 77% of our survey respondents told us they actively want a better understanding of mental health problems so they would know what to say/do to accommodate someone. So as employers, it’s important to engage in campaigns that give your staff a chance to engage with wellbeing topics and there are a lot of resources out there for you to use.

As the IASP advises there are many things that we can all do daily, or particularly on World Suicide Prevention Day. You can raise awareness about the issue, educate yourself and others about the causes of suicide and warning signs for suicide, show compassion and care for those who are in distress in your community, question the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health problems and share your own experiences.

They have lots of information on their website about getting involved, but we have highlighted a few initiatives that you and your workplace might like to engage with this year.

Raise awareness via your internal networks

You can download a banner for World Suicide Prevention Day from the IASP’s website. This small addition to your email signature, an intranet or a website will help raise awareness of this issue and might help start a conversation about wellbeing with your workplace or between your contacts. A lot of work still needs to be done to de-stigmatise suicide, so bringing the issue into the open is an important first step.

The next step might be facilitating a more open forum for discussion. This might be a friendly and informal check-in about wellbeing and how things are going, rather than framing specifically around suicide. You could think about appointing wellbeing champions in your organisation to host these types of events, to create a more comfortable environment than having a purely manager-to-employee chat.

Alternatively, or in addition, you could signpost other forums to talk. If your organisation has Mental Health First Aiders already in place, this is a good opportunity to raise their profile among colleagues. Mental Health First Aiders are there to help in a critical situation until further medical assistance arrives. They can provide not just a listening ear, but a lifeline for colleagues who are at risk of suicide.

LawCare is the legal profession’s dedicated helpline to support colleagues with all aspects of mental health support. You can contact LawCare Monday – Friday 9am-5.30pm on 0800 279 6888, or they have an online chat function available at designated times.

Light a candle at your window at 8pm

The IASP is encouraging people worldwide to light a candle at 8pm on Thursday 10 September in a display of solidarity for suicide awareness. They have postcards available to download from their website to spread the word among your networks and you can also post photos on social media.

Cycle around the globe

You can participate in the IASP’s Cycle Around the Globe campaign between the 10 September and 10 October 2020, which is another great way to get involved as an individual or as a group of colleagues. There is no required distance you have to cycle, but every mile you can add to their grand total of 24,900 miles will make a difference. The more people that take part and share their involvement, the more awareness will be raised. You can also sign up to fundraise, to help the IASP fund future campaigns.

For more information about wellbeing, visit our dedicated Lawscot Wellbeing pages, which include information on looking after your own mental health, positive employment practices, free webinars and wellbeing information specific to Covid-19.

Our wellbeing research

We have collaborated with See Me to undertake research into the status of mental health stigma and discrimination in the Scottish legal profession. Read the summary, full report and the seven-step action plan created in response to the findings.