In the News: Worldwide sexism increases suicide risk in young women

How do you explain that the leading cause of death of women aged 15 to 19, worldwide, is suicide? An internationally recognized expert on global mental health and suicide said in an interview with the Telegraph: “The most probable reason is gender discrimination.”

In other words, misogyny kills.

There are plenty of shocking statistics in a recently rediscovered 2014 study on suicide from the World Health Organization. The report found that suicides are responsible for half of all violent deaths in men and 71% of violent deaths in women. It also showed that globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death for all young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years old. Yet, somehow, it took us until now to notice just how badly it affects young women.

It was Dr Suzanne Petroni, the senior director for gender, population and development at the International Center for Research on Women, who first realized the chilling statistic as she was going through a WHO special report on adolescents. In a section on how maternal mortality has dropped, there was almost a throwaway line: “[M]aternal mortality ranks second among causes of death of 15–19-year old girls globally, exceeded only by suicide.”

The full article can be found at:

A*s in Fear, Misery and Self Harm: An Article by Allison Pearson

Three years ago, my daughter opened her GCSE results and promptly burst into tears. Had she failed a subject she was hoping to take at A level? No, she had “only” got 5A*s and 5As. If you think that sounds crazy then, strictly speaking, you are correct, but chances are you don’t have a teenager of your own. Craziness is where the young live now. Yesterday, I asked my girl what she thought lay behind the epidemic of mental health problems in young people. “You can never be good enough,” she shrugged. “I got really solid GCSEs but they could have been better. It’s not just academic work, it’s everything. Kids my age spend an average of eight hours a day online and 80 per cent of advertising features the female body, always perfect looking, so pretty much the whole time you know you’re not good enough.”

“Could do better” used to be the laconic teacher’s scrawl on a sub-standard essay; now it’s the self lacerating mantra of our children during what are supposed to be the best years of their lives. A survey by the World Health Organisation in 2014 revealed that a fifth of 15-year-olds in England said they had self harmed in the past twelve months. That finding bore out anecdotal evidence I had heard from other parents and teachers. Like my daughter’s tutor in the sixth form who suggested that her persistent stomach complaint might have a psychological cause. I was taken aback. “Do you really think so?,’ I asked dubiously.

“Probably a third of the year are suffering from depression, anorexia or self harming,” he replied.

The news was deafening. My daughter’s state school was rightly proud of its exam results, but it struck me as quite well-balanced compared to the London hothouses attended by friends’ children. Schools like the bluestocking academy where two girls who had a nervous breakdown and anorexia respectively sat their GCSEs while they were sectioned in a psychiatric unit. (Now that’s what I call a sick note.) Then I thought of an acquaintance and her daughter I had bumped into in the street. As the woman babbled happily about how hard Jessica was working for her Oxford place, I tried not to gape at the girl herself. She looked like she had come out of Belsen; sunken eyes, a beard of white down on her bird face, a tiny coat three sizes too big for her. Jessica looked more likely to be heading for an early grave than Balliol. Was the mother out of her mind? What fever of vicarious ambition possessed her that exam results were more important than her child’s health?


To read the full article, click the following link:

In the News: Breaking the Silence of Suicide

The stigma surrounding suicide can have a devastating effect. Those who experience suicidal thoughts may well not want to talk about it, and if they do open up to someone, that someone might shirk from the matter, not take it seriously, not know how to deal with it or, indeed, not want to. Suicide, though, is not inevitable. Prevention is possible, and you can help.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 800,000 people take their own lives each year. In 2012 it was the second leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds and, according to a 2014 British government report, it is three times as common in males, with rates highest for those aged 35 to 54. Because of the traditional role masculinity has played in society, explains Sam Challis, information manager at mental health charity Mind, “men are less likely [than women] to talk about their feelings and get support. So it would be more common for a man to take his own life and for nobody to have known there was anything wrong.”

There are, though, warning signs – among them a change in sleeping and eating patterns, lack of energy, increased drug or alcohol abuse and social withdrawal. If you’re concerned that someone might not be coping well, the crucial thing to do is to talk to them. “There is often a spontaneity issue with suicide, so it’s about increasing the time between thought and action,” says Lorna Fraser, media advisor at Samaritans. “If an intervention [can] be made, the likelihood is that the person will be able to go on, they’ll be able to work through their problems and life will start to become better.”

Just showing your support and giving someone space to communicate their feelings can be a huge release for them. Asking directly about suicide may help. It will not push them in the wrong direction. “That is a myth,” says Fraser. “Sometimes being able to actually express that ‘Yeah, actually, I’ve felt so bad that I have thought about taking my own life’ can be a tremendous relief to share.”

Sympathy and support are vital. Guilt trips are not – it is unproductive to tell someone that what they’re thinking is wrong. Challis explains: “[Comments] such as, ‘Think of what it’ll do to your family’ are often very unhelpful because it’s likely that somebody who’s thinking about suicide is already feeling pretty awful about themselves. It is almost irrelevant what the situation is or what the reason is for the person feeling that way, because they do feel that way. If somebody tells you they’re feeling suicidal, then those feelings are real. So try not to judge their reasons, or the feelings themselves, but try to be there, listen and be supportive.”

Ask them how you can help. They might prefer to speak to someone neutral, in which case you can point them in the direction of Samaritans or Mind. Certainly, if someone does tell you that they’re thinking about suicide, don’t take it lightly. If they’re voicing it, it’s likely to be a very real consideration. Contacting their GP with them can be of great value. And if you think somebody is on the verge of taking their own life there and then, call an ambulance. “People shouldn’t be scared to do that,” says Challis. “We hear from people saying they don’t want to waste their time, but if somebody was having a heart attack you wouldn’t think twice about it, and it’s the same thing: it’s somebody’s life at risk.”

There is hope. Just because a suicidal person can’t see a way out of their situation, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to live. Talk is the first step to recovery. You can help.


The full news article can be found at:

Suicide prevention services join the community to raise awareness.

Yesterday, The Tomorrow Project team and families took part in the East Leake village carnival. 
The Tomorrow Project was started at the end of 2012 in response to a high rate of suicide in and around the East Leake area. Whilst suicide is a difficult subject for us to engage with, it is vital that we do in order to protect our communities from any more loss.
Two months ago, a community member stopped one of our Directors and asked them whether The Tomorrow Project was still running in the area. This made us realise that whilst WE know that we are doing amazing work for the people that we are helping, that we need to find a way of letting the broader community know who we are and that we are here for them.
So… Going back to our roots, we held a fundraising and awareness stall and entered as a walking float in the parade. The theme of this year’s carnival was fashion or National dress, but in a bid to be noticed (so that as many people as possible know who we are) and to have a little fun along the way, we dressed as ‘The Flintstones and Prehistoric Fashion’.

Staff, their children and families gave their time to come along and support the day, and to let people know that we’re here to help!
Lo and behold, we only went and won ‘most innovate float’ and our CEO won ‘best dressed female’ dressed as Wilma Flintstone! 

So, whilst we deal with some of the darkest issues of society, we showed yesterday that we can come together as a community and bring suicide out of the shadows; that we are a service that is run by real, caring, wonderful people for the good of the community and that we will continue to do great work to help save more lives.

Thank you to everyone who came along to support us, to the wonderful staff for showing their love of the work that we do and to the community that we support!

Meet the Team: Jack, our Administrator

Hello, I’m Jack. I am currently part of the administration team here at Harmless. My role within the organisation can be quite varied, from completing day to day administration tasks to helping to organise Harmless’ annual celebration event and everything in between.

Alongside my role as an administrator, I am also part of the training team. Together with our Training Co-ordinator, Sophie, we facilitate and organise the delivery or self harm and suicide awareness training to many groups and organisations from across the country.

However it’s not just training direct to organisations we provide, we also hold many different training days here at Harmless HQ tackling a variety of different subjects. Some of our upcoming training includes our Introduction to Self Harm General Training day with the next session to take place on 23rd June. We will also be running Mental Health First Aid Training (MHFA) as well as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and sessions on a regular basis, the latter next being held on 7th-8th September.

I am looking forward to being part of all of these exciting changes and additions to the Harmless training program, as we spread awareness, information and skills on how to support those who Self Harm or have been affected by Suicide.

Harmless Self Harm Drop-in Service

Harmless provide two drop in sessions per month, one for adults and a separate one your young people.

Our next drop in session is for young persons and will be held on:

Wednesday  17th June  at 15.30 –  16.30 for young persons aged up to 21 years.

Our trained therapist will be on hand to offer information or advice about any concerns you may have about self harm.

If you have any concerns about someone such as a family member, friend or a colleague, then please feel free to join us, you will be assured of a friendly welcome.

All drop in sessions will take place at the Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service Building, & Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB (Opposite House of Fraser)

If you have trouble finding us please call on 0115 9348445, or email us at

Getting help to the right people at the right time

Yesterday I delivered training to approximately 20 play workers for Nottingham City around the issue of self harm.

I’m Harmless’ CEO, and whilst I used to deliver a lot of training, my role usually nowadays keeps me busy with strategy and fundraising. Today I took a step back to my roots, giving a whistle stop workshop about the main issues to a group of really engaged delegates.

It’s hard in a workshop to cover enough of the information that a workforce need to know to feel more confident. But training, delivered the right way can inspire change. That is… After all… Why we do what we do. We believe in change. We want to encourage our work forces to feel confident to talk about self harm, to know what to say and how to say it and to ensure that come what may, they can make a difference to people’s lives.

The issue that came out of today’s training, loud and clear, was that policies and systems often get in the way of a good, honest and compassionate conversation with young people that self harm. That somehow, with all the risk assessments we have to do, the referrals we have to make, that the very support we’re there to provide can get lost.

So today reminded me of why we do the training the way we do it; why we place people with personal experience at the heart of all that we do and why we fight so hard to ensure that every person who needs help, gets the best possible chance of that help.

Self harm can be a difficult subject for many to talk about, but it doesn’t mean that with the right support and help, and training, we can’t be confident to help people in those situations.

Could you be a fundraiser for Harmless?

We need your help.

Could you do a sponsored event? Hold a coffee morning? Bake and sell cakes? Run a race in our name… Whatever it might be… Whether you raise £10 or £200 that money will go straight into providing life saving services for people in distress, those that self harm or who might be at risk of suicide.

We provide services for people in distress, whatever their circumstances. Our help transforms lives. We save lives.

£25 provides one session of support to someone who needs our help. Imagine if you could raise £25… Just £25. That £25 might mean the difference between choosing to live or die.

Please consider being a fundraiser for us. You could be the one that makes that difference.

Thank you.

Register as a fundraiser:

Meet the team: Sophie, our Training Co-ordinator

My name is Sophie and I am the Training Co-ordinator for Harmless. As part of my role I also deliver ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) training.

I have worked at Harmless for about 2 months now and am thoroughly enjoying my role.  Having known about Harmless for quite a few years, I was drawn to it as I have had my own personal experiences through life and know people that also have had their own. Working here I knew I could share these experiences and not feel judged. Due to this, I really wanted to be able to help in raising awareness and work towards reducing stigma by being able to share my experiences first hand.

It is an extremely varied role, however focuses on the training aspect that Harmless provide. On a day to day basis I manage the team of Trainers, manage the training bookings, liaise with clients about their training needs and obtain new and regular training to ensure we can continue to raise awareness of self-harm, suicide prevention and support other organisations effectively.

I am very committed to being able to deliver a range of training and am extremely excited to be delivering ASIST training in September and MHFA very soon as well. These 2 day workshops are so vital in terms of being able to support those at risk of suicide and those in crisis in regards to mental ill-health, so I am very proud to be delivering these. Not only does it help people at risk, it also helps to reduce stigma around such a difficult subject and gives people the skills and confidence to be able to talk about these topics.

I really look forward to sharing with you how these deliveries go.

Self Harm among young people in Wales reaches 5 year high

Self-harm among young people in Wales has hit a five-year high, according to new Welsh government figures. More than 1,500 patients aged between 10 and 19 were treated at Welsh hospitals between 2013 and 2014.

Last year, almost four times as many girls as boys were admitted for self-harm treatment in Wales. Mental health charities are calling for more to be done in schools to teach emotional resilience to prevent self-harm.

The Welsh government is due to publish an action plan on self-harming in June – it’s second in six years. Dr Ann John, from Swansea University, who is leading the plan, says an important part of the strategy involves reducing the stigma associated with self-harm.

“The first strategic objective is about raising awareness. It’s about training those people who are priority care providers who first come into contact with people suffering with these issues.”

The plan also recommends developing the school counselling service to include pupils in Year 6 at primary schools and combating bullying.

More than 1,200 girls, compared with about 300 boys, were admitted to Welsh hospitals for self-harming last year.

Psychologists say the reasons for this gender gap are complex.

Some suggest boys do not seek help as easily and they are therefore absent from the figures, while others argue girls find it harder to express anger and are thus more prone to self-harm.

A recent education review recommended that health and well-being be put at the centre of the Welsh curriculum.

Katie Dalton, from mental health charity Gofal, said she would like to see this idea taken seriously.

“Pupils need to know that there are support systems out there and that it is alright to feel unwell with their emotions and mental health and it’s OK to talk to people,” she added.

Experts agree the reasons for the rise in self harm are complex.

A Welsh government spokeswoman said: “National Institute for Health and Care Excellence quality standards, which changed in June 2013, recommend that all children under 16 are assessed differently following self-harm.

“It is not possible to be certain whether the increase in admissions identifies a real increase in the behaviour of children and young people or reflects a change in clinical practice and more decisions being made to admit children for detailed assessments.

“We expect all children to receive safe services to meet their clinical and emotional needs following any episode of self-harm.”


The full article can be found at: