Emma's story - World Suicide Prevention Day

People are sharing their own experiences to raise awareness of the upcoming World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday 10 September. The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 is “Take a minute, change a life”. In UK communities we’re being urged to look out for the vulnerable and be prepared to listen in a non-judgmental way. It can make all the difference.
Photograph of a young woman smiling at the camera next to a sign which reads 'stoke recovery'

People are sharing their own experiences to raise awareness of the upcoming World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday 10 September.

Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt.

The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 is “Take a minute, change a life”. In UK communities we’re being urged to look out for the vulnerable and be prepared to listen in a non-judgmental way. It can make all the difference.

Emma (36) from Stoke, who has been addicted to alcohol, first attempted to take her own life when she was 17 years old. Over the following years she deliberately overdosed on several more occasions. On her last attempt, she drank a bottle of vodka and drove her car at speed into a ditch. She was distraught when she realized she was still alive.

“I’ve always had low self esteem and sought approval from others. When anything went wrong I would blame myself and think I was rubbish and useless. I coped with the premature birth of my daughter by drinking heavily and gradually everything started to fall apart. I felt I was failing everyone – my parents, my daughter and my partner. Eventually we split up and my daughter went to live with her father because of my drinking and I had to move back into with my parents. I’d lost everything and the shame, guilt and feelings of worthlessness were overwhelming. I began to think I was a total burden to everyone and they would be better off without me existing.”

Fortunately Emma suffered no lasting injuries from the accident and after time in hospital, she believes she’s finally found the help she needs from Stoke Recovery Service (managed by Addaction).

“I was able to tell them the whole story and there was no judgment or reprimands. They just listened and took me seriously. They found me a home in a supported living scheme and I had one-to-one sessions with counsellors. I felt supported and accepted. Mentally I began to grow stronger. I now have a new job as a trainer with people who have similar problems to my own and I see my daughter regularly. I think I’m becoming the person I always should have been – only it’s taken me a long time to get here. My life starts now at the age of 36.”

Suicide prevention requires a multi-layered approach, but it all hinges on appropriate, effective support and treatment being available when people need help. Our support in the UK is way too patchy. Often it’s simply the lucky ones in the right place who survive.

Suicide and suicide attempts are far more common in people who with alcohol and drug issues. Under the influence, people take risks they ordinarily would not. Additionally, many people misuse drugs or alcohol in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.