(*name changed to protect anonymity)
Up until his early twenties, Aran had enjoyed a happy childhood growing up in a close-knit, working class, British Asian family.
However, a series of events in his early twenties resulted in Aran suffering severe depression, panic attacks and feelings of hopelessness.
Aran was unable to find a job, resulting in financial problems and his father fell ill. This difficult situation became worse when Aran began to lose his hair, severely denting his self-confidence.
“There were many times when I would wake up in the morning and didn’t see any point in getting out of bed”. “I felt like everything was against me. I was looking for a job, going for lots of interviews but not getting anywhere which made me worse. It was a vicious circle.
“Whilst I was feeling totally hopeless, a couple of people I knew, took their own lives which was really bad and really knocked me.”
Aran is now backing REACHOUT – Liverpool, a new suicide prevention campaign encouraging people to reach out and start a conversation – whether they are worried about someone – or are in crisis themselves. Reach Out Liverpool, launched by Liverpool Public Health, in partnership with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust, reminds us that anyone can have suicidal thoughts, and how talking about suicide could save or change a life.
The campaign aims to raise awareness that suicide is preventable and to remove the stigma surrounding suicide – something which prevents people in crisis reaching out, and those around them from even mentioning the word.
It comes after the city has seen an increase in death by suicide in 2020 – which could have been associated with the impact of Covid-19, and the resulting anxiety from lockdowns, social isolation and job and financial insecurity.
REACHOUT is asking the direct question ‘Are you feeling suicidal?’ and encouraging those in crisis to talk to someone. For those who may be concerned, the campaign raises awareness of the warning signs and signposts to support. It provides lots of help, tips and support including online suicide awareness training developed by the Zero Suicide Alliance. The 20-minute training provides the skills and confidence to help someone who may be considering suicide.
Aran is particularly concerned that people living in areas of deprivation are disproportionately affected and may not find it as easy to access help.
“It’s crucial that people know where to go for help and where to point others towards, I worry that people struggling in deprived areas may not be able to access the support they need so easily. One of the important parts of the campaign is that it provides lots of support and guidance to all those who need it.”
“When I was at my lowest, I didn’t know where to look for help and I’m sure there must be lots of other people in this situation.
“This campaign encourages people to talk which is so important. When I was younger and started to lose my hair, my friends would take the mickey out of me. I would laugh along but they didn’t realise the dark place I was in. It’s vital that men open up and talk to each other. In my experience, men find it hard to open up, but hopefully this campaign will increase awareness of having these conversations to help people who may be struggling.”
For help and support visit having suicidal thoughts?