Suicide Prevention & First Aid

Although suicide is undoubtedly a hugely complex and sensitive issue, we believe that promoting life saving skills and First Aid Courses can play a role in helping to combat the issue.

Northern Ireland’s mental health problem has been well-documented in recent years with the highest suicide rate in the UK.

One Ulster University study suggested that almost 30% of the NI population suffer mental health problems, nearly half of which are directly related to the Troubles.

UK Suicide Statistics
UK Suicide Statistics

The definition of suicide in Northern Ireland, and in the rest of the UK, includes deaths from self-inflicted injury and also those from “events of undetermined intent”.

Covid-19 is having its impact on the whole of the UK — not only in terms of lives tragically lost to the virus but also because of its negative effects on mental health — too often, leading to suicide.

Our First Aid Courses at Harberry Training do not shy away from the topic of suicide. Quick, decisive action coupled with the right skills can no doubt contribute to preventing a would-be suicide and ultimately saving a life.

We provide easy access for thousands of people who understand the value of First Aid through our First Aid Courses. And, although streamlined to serve the needs of busy schedules, our courses also stay mindful that First Aid and suicide are not removed from one another.

Without doubt, it is becoming increasingly important for us to know how to provide First Aid to people who have attempted to take their own lives. But you can also see that knowing how to provide support for anyone contemplating suicide could be pivotal.

Support for Suicide Prevention

Follow these 4 steps if you are concerned for someone who is considering suicide:

Let the person know you care about their welfare and our concerned for them. Ask if they are thinking of taking their own life in a gentle manner that invites discussion about it. There is plenty of evidence to show that, in most cases, people contemplating suicide do not really want to die. Helping them to open up and be heard is important.              

1) Listen and take what they are saying seriously. And do not leave them by themselves. Scan the environment to make sure there is nothing in the vicinity that they could use to self-harm, e.g. weapons, drugs, alcohol, or medicines.

2) If you conclude that their life is in danger, call emergency on 999. Or take them directly to hospital. If you suspect they could be talked out of taking their life by someone more qualified, you could find out if a GP or psychologist is available. Lifeline is available 24/7 on 0808 808 8000.

3) Follow up with the person regularly. Not only will you be able to check how they’re doing, you’ll also be letting them know there are people who care about them, that they’ve not been abandoned. Your follow-up should also include making sure a professional support network knows about them. You need to have people you can confide in about this, too. Your own mental health is just as important.

First Aid Treatment for Suicide Attempts

In Northern Ireland, the most common ways people try to commit suicide include: falling, drug poisoning, hanging and self-harming with sharp objects. We have listed how to provide first aid treatment for each of these below.

Suicide Awareness

Attempted Suicide by Hanging

• Assess the scene to make sure it’s safe.

• Remove anything constricting the victim’s neck.

• Call emergency services on 999.

• Place the victim gently on the floor and check for a pulse. If the victim is breathing, place them in the recovery position until emergency services arrive. If not, commence CPR.

Attempted Suicide by Poisoning or an Overdose

Check the scene is safe and the victim is alert. If unconscious, move them to the recovery position to avoid them choking on their own vomit.

• Call emergency services on 999.

• Assess the victim to determine if they are breathing and have a pulse. If not, start CPR.

• Try to find the cause of the poisoning or overdose to help emergency services provide treatment for the victim.

Attempted Suicide with a Sharp Object

Ensure the scene is safe and determine if the victim is responsive.

• Call emergency services on 999.

• Find and control the bleeding, applying pressure, as well as a dressing, such as gauze or a clean shirt.

• Elevate the wounded area above the heart.

• Use pressure to try to stop the blood flowing through the artery above the wound.

• Once the bleeding stops, check breathing, circulation and airways.

Attempted Suicide for Falls

Assess the scene is safe and check to see if they are breathing. If not, begin CPR.

• Call emergency services on 999.

• Assess how they’ve fallen and determine if they’ve injured their neck or spine. If so, do not move them.

• For a neck or shoulder injuries, try to keep them still to avoid doing any further harm to themselves.

• If you believe there’s no neck or shoulder injury, you can place them in the recovery position.

• Should the fall victim start going into shock, force them to lie back and raise their legs.

Following the above First Aid tips for these common suicide attempts might turn somebody’s life around.

Calling a help line, such as Lifeline can be very effective during a suicide attempt. But, if you’re uncertain, always call emergency services.

We also recommend you complete a First Aid Course through Harberry Training to ensure you are as confident and as prepared as can be to deal with these situations.

Our First Aid trainers are industry experts and have extensive knowledge in applying First Aid for and providing support following a suicide attempt or any other medical emergency.

Contact us today if you would like to find out more about our First Aid Courses that can be tailored to suit business or personal demands.