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  • Lyn Reed

Suicide: who is at risk and what can be done

Recent statistics show an increase in suicide rates and for particular groups such as men and the retired, it remains one of the main causes of death.

Factors associated with higher suicide risk include:

- being male

- relationship status (single, widowed, divorced)

- social isolation

- depression

- alcohol or drug misuse

- homelessness

- anxiety, panic disorders


- unemployed or retired

- history of abuse

- previous suicidal thoughts or attempts

- family history

However, it is VERY IMPORTANT to remember the protective factors:

- some capacity for emotional expression

- willingness to talk about thoughts

- informal support eg friends

- formal support eg therapist

- interests/hobbies

- coping strategies

- key supportive individuals

- physical exercise

- an important attachment figure

- crisis plan

- attending counselling

- the quality of the alliance and engagement with the therapist

There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that being able to talk to clients about suicide is extremely important in providing a safe space in which to talk about it.  Talking about suicidal thoughts and feelings can help clients to clarify how the thoughts are experienced and managed.  


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