Hundreds of years of shame, stigma and, until recently prosecution, have led to today’s silence around suicide. As a result, facts about suicide go unacknowledged, myths remain unchallenged and conversations sometimes don’t happen.

All suicides are preventable but the opportunities need to be recognised and taken. The conversations must happen if we are to save lives.

SToRMS’ WISETALKERS initiative creates the environment for these conversations to happen.

SToRMS raises suicide awareness through events, media, training, joint working with local organisations and collaboration with national charities.

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In Great Britain in 2016 we lost 2 men to suicide every hour. The biggest cause of death in men aged 20 to 45 is suicide. Which means, if you’re male and under the age of 45 in this country, the thing most likely to kill you is you. These statistics are horrifying and if they were related to road traffic deaths or disease we would all be aware of them and pushing for action. So why does this seem to be such a well kept secret?

Mental health is generally not well understood by the public and as a result those suffering from emotional difficulties and mental illhealth continue to be stigmatised. Suicide carries additional stigma and fear of judgement, due in part to historic criminalisation and religious sanctions which may further discourage those experiencing suicidal thoughts from seeking the help they need, leaving them isolated and alone.

Those bereaved by suicide often do not wish to be open about the cause of death due to concerns about how this may change people’s attitude towards them and the memory of the person they have lost.

The lack of open discussion perpetuates the misunderstandings around suicide. Many still believe that talking about suicide will somehow encourage people to take their own life so it is better not to mention it. Although this has been disproved, many people remain uncomfortable raising the subject of suicide. These attitudes can prevent effective early intervention.

Destigmatising mental illhealth and suicide will encourage more people to be open about their emotions or experiences and to seek help, without fearing judgement or isolation. We need to disempower the myths, and encourage open discussion regarding suicide.

SToRMS believes that everybody has a part in this, and on a personal level we all can try to always ask, listen, support one another without judging. This may sometimes be all that is needed to save a life.

By encouraging discussions about suicide in schools, universities and in the media we can start to dismantle the silence that is killing our young men.

SToRMS believes that #SharingIsStrength, and that we can only #SurviveSuicideTogether. Openness regarding suicide and suicidal thoughts is one of our our core principles, and underlines all of the SToRMS strategies.