If you can read between the lines, you can save lives.

If you can read between the lines, you can save lives. That is the message Choose Life is sending out to people in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire to mark Suicide Prevention Week (5–11th September).

Last year 65 people in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire took their own lives, leaving a lasting impact on families, friends and communities.

Choose Life is tackling this through its ‘Read between the lines’ campaign, which calls on everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them. The message is that if you’re worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, asking them directly about their feelings can help to save their life.

The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be ambiguous, but encourages people to take all signs of distress seriously, even if the person seems to be living a normal life. It also aims to assure people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.

Iain Murray Choose Life Co-ordinator in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire said:

“You tend to know when someone close to you isn’t quite themselves. So if you notice any changes in their behaviour that worry you – even if the signs come and go – ask them about it.

“You’ll find that talking can help a person get clarity about what it is that’s troubling them, and often gives a sense of perspective. Starting a conversation is half the battle. You don’t need to have an answer to their problems – just be there for them, try to listen carefully without judging, and show that you care.”

Iain added: “If it feels right, ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought in their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a
big relief for them to be able to say, ‘yes, I am’ and acknowledge they need help.”

The campaign targets men and women who are likely to be in greatest contact with people most at risk of suicide – men aged 30-59, since statistics show that around three quarters of suicides have been men in every year since 1990. 

Scotland’s suicide rate has been decreasing since 2002 with the latest figures showing that that they are at their lowest level since the 1970’s. Choose Life in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, along with colleagues in Moray, has made a key contribution and a recent innovation has been the development and launch of the Prevent Suicide North East app, which not only gives the user access to a huge range of helpful organisations but allows them to write their own safety plan which can help them through difficult periods when they are at heightened risk of suicide. 

Since it’s launch on 26 March this year, the overall user number across all platforms, that is smart-devices and websites, stands at 6174.  The number of users demonstrates the tremendous value and importance of the app.  The Prevent Suicide Northeast Scotland app is available to download on Apple, Android, Windows Phone and Kindle Fire devices and is supported by the website www.preventsuicideapp.com
To support people in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire to get behind the campaign, Choose Life has  widely available information cards with simple ‘how to help’ steps, and leaflets such as the Art of Conversation which gives advice on starting conversations about suicide and listening effectively.   

Raising awareness of suicide prevention and giving the public information is a vital part of the Choose Life work. A host of activities are taking place in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire during Suicide Prevention Week, including an Act of Remembrance which will be hosted by the Lord Provost in the Town House in Aberdeen at 2pm on Thursday 8 September and an associated Tree Planting Ceremony led by the Aberdeenshire Provost will take place at 3pm on World Suicide Prevention Day, Saturday 10 September 2016, on land adjacent to the Market Street car park in Ellon.