Suicide charity says almost all calls related to lockdown

Suicide charity says almost all calls related to lockdown

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Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of suicide prevention charity Papyrus, said it has been “run off its feet” and has extended its opening hours as well as increased its staff to cover the increased demand for help. It estimates 90 per cent of all calls, and texts to its service are coronavirus or lockdown related. These include “reoccuring” concerns linked to physical and mental health, uncertainty over the future, struggles to access support services as well as loneliness and isolation.

Many are also anxious about a loss of income, domestic violence and abuse, and the potential to become infected with coronavirus.

However Mr Flynn said the risk of suicide linked to lockdown is not being discussed openly.

He said: “Everyone is cautiously talking about mental health and the lockdown and careful not to link suicide with lockdowns for fear of copycating. However seventy five per cent of people who die by suicide are not even known to mental health services. People are seriously trying to avoid the word suicide at the moment.

“But we now need to do this. We have to talk about it sensibly and openly and encourage people to seek and find help if they are having suicidal thoughts.

Anxiety and mental health problems kill people. Loss of jobs, isolation, loss of income and the threat of homelessness – Papyrus is hearing daily the circumstances of pain linked to the lockdown which is entirely new to them. People are calling in who are feeling suicidal and saying they are at their wits’ end.

ben brown

Ben Brown took his own life due to the pressures of lockdown (Image: Handout)

“We have stayed open throughout the lockdown and have had to extend our opening hours as well as put on extra staff to answer all the calls but we have had no extra funding. We are run off our feet.”

His comments follow research which uncovered a “concerning signal” that child suicide deaths may have increased during lockdown.

This NHS funded research – which examined deaths among under 18s during the first two months of the nationwide restricitons – shows one lockdown related child suicide occurred every five days during the first 56 days.

Of the 25 children who took their lives during this period, 12 – almost half – “related to Covid-19 or lockdown.”

It concluded: “restriction to education and other activities, disruption to care and support services, tensions at home and isolation appeared to be contributing factors.”

The study relied on child mortality notifications collated on the National Child Mortality Database because official ONS figures – which rely on coroners inquests – are not yet available for the lockdown period.

The Samaritans said it had “no doubt” the pandemic is having an adverse impact on the national health and wellbeing.

A spokeswoman said: “Our volunteers have provided emotional support over a million times (via phone, email and letters) since lockdown and almost a quarter of those calls for help have been about coronavirus with people feeling concerned about isolation, mental health and illness, as well as family and finance.

“There’s no doubt that the pandemic will have a significant and long-lasting impact on the nation’s health and wellbeing.”

She added: “Suicide is not inevitable and there are actions we can take so that difficult times do not result in people taking their own lives.”

One grieving mother blames lockdown for the suicide of her “gregarious and kind-hearted” 22-year old student son last April. She also warned more young suicides would happen if lockdowns continue.

ben brown

Ben pictured with his mum (Image: Handout)

Ben Brown, 22, from Gloucester, died after speaking of the “overwhelming” impact that the lockdown was having on him in a note on his phone to his mother Helen Hartley Brown, 54.

The night before his death – in the final year of his Engineering degree at Loughborough University – Ms Hartery-Brown, said that engineering student Ben – who was living with two housemates in Leicestershire – concealed his distress in a family zoom call.

However, Ben, who was going to train with the British Army in September, spoke of needing to be ‘busy all the time’ so he was not ‘alone with his thoughts’.”

He had kept a diary of his thoughts on his phone, “up to a few minutes before he died” .

“Lockdown killed him,” said Ms Hartery-Brown, mother of two, who runs an events company.

ged flynn

Ged Flynn said the charity has been ‘run off its feet’ (Image: Handout)

“I have no doubt he would still be alive today were it not for lockdown. Ben loved people. He needed to be busy all the time. He was suddenly in isolation from his peers and from his course. He would have been with them, baking brownies to keep them all going as they worked through the night on their courses and keeping everyone’s spirits up.

“But the information on his phone showed how he was feeling and he had lost all motivation to work and felt useless. I wish I had known. We spoke regularly but he gave no indication. He couldn’t cope. He needed people around him to function. My heart is broken and will never mend.

“I miss my son every second of every day but I fear there will be more deaths caused by continued lockdown.”

For help: PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults

Samaritans (116 123) or email jo@samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year

Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK

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Randy Salars News And Comment

Copywriter and marketing consultant. Author of 'Stories And Recipes From The Soup Kitchen.' Freedom lover, adventurer, and treasure hunter.

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