World Suicide Prevention Day: One life lost is one too many

World Suicide Prevention Day is taking place on 10th September. Worldwide, veterinary practitioners and students are reported to be at higher risk of suicide, burnout and depression compared to other occupational groups. By gaining a greater understanding as to why this is the case, guidance can be put in place to help veterinary professionals protect themselves and others from the emotional rigours of working within the veterinary profession.

The Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) is a charity hosted by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, a mental health and community trust with a zero suicide ambition. Started by just four members united by a passion to prevent suicide worldwide, the members of ZSA have used their extensive experience in the NHS to expand the charity and spread the key message that suicide is preventable.

The ZSA works in collaboration with NHS trusts, non-profit organizations, local authorities, businesses, and individuals to raise awareness of suicide and its contributing factors. The aim is to break the stigma that surrounds suicide and enable leaders to drive meaningful action to help prevent suicide in the UK and beyond.

Recognising when work/life stresses have come all-consuming for others and knowing what to say or do isn’t always easy. The ZSA has developed training to offer guidance on what to look for and share how you may be able to help somebody who might be considering ending their life.

The interactive and evidence-based resources have been developed to support community and organisational leaders to understand the incidence of suicide in their local area, the factors that contribute to suicide and what others are doing to tackle these issues.

These courses teach you the skills and confidence to have a potentially life-saving conversation with someone you may be worried about. The full version is for anyone aged 16 or over and will take about 20 minutes to complete. You can find more information about the training courses here.

Alison Speakman, BSAVA President said: “BSAVA is passionate about promoting positive wellbeing within the veterinary team and we are pleased to be able to highlight this amazing resource to our members and strongly encourage members and colleagues to engage with this short free training module which could save a life.

“Suicide is preventable, most people considering suicide don’t want to die, they simply no longer want to live with the pain they experience. The importance of being able to recognise the warning signs of declining mental health in both ourselves and those around us, and openly talk about it, is critical in supporting and signposting help for those experiencing a mental health crisis.”

The veterinary community is also able to access help through the vetlife helpline. This offers confidential, independent, and free help for everyone, including vet nurses, students, and non-clinical staff. This is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0303 040 2551 or via anonymous email at https://helpline.vetlife.org.uk/.