Nikki Bond, Research Assistant, Money and Mental Health
Share your experience of financial difficulty and suicide
*TRIGGER WARNING* This blog contains information about suicide that some may find distressing
10 September 2018
Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, we are launching a call for input for our new project which looks at the links between financial difficulty and suicide. We would like to hear from anyone about their experience of financial difficulties and suicidal thoughts or attempts, whether that’s in a personal or professional capacity.
We know that the reasons people take their own life are complex and often there are many contributory factors leading to suicidal thoughts or attempts. However we also know that struggling with finances heightens the risk of a person taking their own life. People who are in problem debt are twice as likely to experience suicidal thoughts, even after controlling for other factors like age, employment and gender.
When financial difficulties are overwhelming
These findings are not surprising to us. Here at Money and Mental Health our Research Community regularly share their experiences of financial difficulty, and the issue of suicide, both thoughts and attempts – are frequently raised.
“Being unable to pay essential bills and getting further into debt has definitely increased my level of anxiety and depression, so much so that I have had suicidal thoughts.”
“My mortgage company seem to think that a call from them is no big deal, whereas to me it’s a nightmare that lasts for days and leaves me suicidal.”
For me, suicide and financial difficulty is an issue particularly close to my heart. During my time working in financial and voluntary services, I remember the almost weekly contact with people overwhelmed by their debts. Less often, but still all too frequently, I would speak to people where their feelings of hopelessness around their debts were so great, they contemplated suicide. It was always a relief when people shared this with you, meaning you could listen and support them to access appropriate services. But not everyone feels able to share, and not everyone is able to access the advice and support they need to begin to resolve their financial difficulties.
Every suicide is one suicide too many
Last year in the UK 5,821 people died by suicide. This was a fall of 2.4% from the previous year. This reduction is welcome news, however, every suicide remains one too many. We are seeking to understand how government, local authorities, creditors and others can work together more effectively to reduce the number of people who die by suicide.
Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. Financial problems can always be resolved. Working together as communities and services we can reduce the number of people who die by suicide. So if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal feelings, financial difficulties or mental health problems there is advice and support out there.
Take part in our research
Our research and influencing work are only as good as the people behind it who courageously share their stories and experiences with us. So whether you have struggled with your own feelings around suicide, have witnessed a loved one struggle or have supported someone in a professional capacity – and where finances were thought to be a contributory factor – please consider sharing your experiences with us here. We know that sharing your experiences can be distressing, so please only do this if you feel safe to do so, and if you need help with your mental health or support with caring for someone else, reach out for help from one of the brilliant organisations below. This survey will be open until 28 September, so if you’d like to take part but don’t feel up to it today, you can always come back to it later.