I am pleased, as Mayor of Lambeth, to welcome you to our event today.
Suicide is a very difficult subject, but we must work hard together to encourage conversations and dialogue around the subject.
As Adrian says we are committed to suicide prevention and our action plan for this year commits us to some of the key elements of a ‘suicide safe’ community.
Cabinet Member for Health, Cllr. Ed Davie, has talked about that action plan and the partnership work we are doing on the ground to reduce suicide in Lambeth.
Our action plan is a work in progress, but I am encouraged that so many organisations are working so hard together to open up conversation around suicide and are collaborating.
Such work goes to the heart of why Lambeth Together was conceived: the need for us all to pitch in, to share our expertise and resources as we aspire to reduce the challenges around health and wellbeing that too many people in our borough face every day.
Our specific focus and learning for this evening, is how we talk about suicide.
It can be difficult.
It can be a deeply lonely experience.
We are often worried we will say the wrong thing.
For many, suicidal feelings are emotions and thoughts which are associated with shame and stigma.
And suicidal thoughts can be easily missed by others who don’t know the signs, who don’t or can’t feel they can ask openly or just aren’t able to listen properly to those in need of help.
And that is why so many people are struggling.
One group of people who so often wrestle with that shame and stigma is men.
Many men already find it very difficult to talk about their emotions and how they feel.
There is considerable social pressure to carry on and not be seen as “soft”.
But this is about men’s emotional health.
Three quarters of those taking their own lives in the borough are men.
Most commonly men in middle age.
We need to ask are men seeking help early enough and if they are not, as the evidence shows, why is that and what can we do to improve this?
We have invited you here this evening to reflect on how we can change this picture.
For me, one suicide, is one suicide too many.
And, as well as the individual and wider tragedies behind each suicide, there are also many uncounted attempts.
Suicide is preventable – and I believe we can prevent it.
Suicide has a devastating effect.
Not just for the person who takes their own life but for their loved ones.
For every suicide, I am told, at least 10 people in the individual’s family, community and workplace are seriously affected.
Those who are bereaved in this way, struggle to work, struggle to continue to care and to have good relationships.
And being bereaved by suicide puts you at greater risk of suicide yourself.
So whether you are an employer, a community leader, a clinician, service provider or a carer, this issue could affect you.
So we really look forward to listening to the suicide specialist services here this evening, so that when a partner or someone in the family, a friend, a co-worker or a stranger needs to talk about suicide, we can be there for them.