Charities and internal investigations
According to new figures from the Office of National Statistics, the suicide rate in the UK has risen for the first time since 2000. The Samaritans pointed to "worrying trends", including men aged 45-49 remaining at the highest risk of suicide, and an increase in suicide rates among young people, especially women under 25.
This year, it's especially pertinent to recognise that the stress of the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health and, again, figures from the ONS paint a worrying picture - indicating that double the number of people experienced depression in June 2020 when compared to July 2019; now amounting to one in five people. The pandemic and associated lockdown measures are likely to have significantly affected mental health with individuals experiencing greater feelings of isolation, anxiety, bereavement or financial insecurity. They are also likely to face challenges accessing help and resources, which potentially exacerbate suicide risk factors. At this time of uncertainty, suicide prevention has never been so important.
Mental illness is a growing concern for employers, and we have an important role to play in raising awareness and creating a supportive environment. Promoting positive mental health and supporting our people is central to Kingsley Napley's open and inclusive culture, and our wellbeing agenda. We aim to encourage each other to talk about issues that are affecting them, free from judgement.
As well as our benefits and resources that are widely available to all, we have trained 41 people across the firm in mental health first aid, which includes advice on what to do when there is concern that a colleague may be suicidal. It is vital that we ensure there are appropriate signposts and clear access to help and support for those that may be struggling. Reducing the stigma is essential and moving beyond the fear or worry of saying the wrong thing or putting ideas into people’s head where you are concerned is key. There is strong evidence that for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts and isolation, knowing that someone cares enough to ask a concerned question about how they are feeling, and whether they feel, or have recently felt, suicidal can really make a difference in a time of need.
As a firm, we are also very aware of our ability to give something back to the wider community and we are very pleased to be supporting a charity called Maytree which is a local suicide respite centre.
The Maytree Suicide Respite Centre was established in 2002 and aims to alleviate the distress of people suffering anxiety about suicide, reduce the risk of suicide for people in suicidal ideation and raise awareness about mental health conditions and suicide risk. Maytree provides support to those in suicidal crisis by bridging the gap between the medical support of the NHS and the helplines and drop-in centres of the voluntary sector and is the only organisation of its kind in the UK working to fill this gap in suicide prevention service provision. The centre provides free one-off four or five night stays in its residential (i.e. non-medical) setting to give people befriending services and a safe place to rest, reflect, and be heard without judgment and in complete confidence. This is an alternative for people who would prefer not to go to hospital or seek other medical assistance because they don’t feel this would give them what they need. Maytree’s service runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and includes telephone and email support to reduce the risk of suicide.
There were 6,507 suicides in the UK in 2018 (for perspective, 1,770 people died on UK roads in the same year); for each completed suicide there are 20-30 people who have made an attempt; and one in four people know someone who has killed themselves. This handful of statistics show that suicide is something that touches many people’s lives, which was one of the main reasons Kingsley Napley wanted to support the charity in its incredibly valuable work. The services Maytree offer include a respite stay for people in suicidal crisis, confidential email and telephone support, advice for people concerned about a friend or family member, suicide prevention training and training in emotional first aid. There is no charge to guests or those seeking advice and Maytree is entirely funded by donations so the hope is that the firm’s contribution will help to develop more support services and save more lives.
Since Kingsley Napley began supporting Maytree in May 2019, the firm has run a number of fundraising events where the proceeds have gone to Maytree including a ‘Summer Accessory in the City Day’ which coincided with our final Summer in the City 4pm finish and raised over £200, a KN team being sponsored to run the Royal Half Parks Marathon which raised over £4,500, the annual Christmas fundraisers (including competitions such as best Christmas jumper and best dressed Christmas pet, an eco-friendly gift wrapping service, a sponsored ‘Santa in the City’ 5k run and our office services team delivering personal Christmas items) which in total raised over £1,200 and the KN annual quiz (held virtually this year due to COVID-19). In total, Kingsley Napley has donated over £21,000 to Maytree so far and we have many other fundraising events in the pipeline, including the KN Virtual Fair which is taking place across a week via Zoom.
If you need support, or know someone who does, please contact Maytree.
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