We are committed to highlighting the importance of suicide prevention. We must all challenge the stigma around mental health and suicide to encourage people to seek help and support when they may need it most, to help people understand themselves better, and to provide insight into why someone may be feeling suicidal.

Suicide and self-harm are not mental health problems. Instead, they are linked to mental distress and to some mental health conditions such as depression, severe anxiety, and psychosis.

Challenging stigma

Despite mental health issues being very common, there is still stigma and negative attitudes towards mental health and suicide. Stigma and discrimination can worsen someone’s mental health, and delay or stop them from getting help. People may face more than one type of stigma: for example, they may also be stigmatised because of their race, gender, sexuality, or disability, which can make life even more challenging.

There are many reasons for discrimination, including:

  • stereotypes. Society can have stereotyped views about mental illness or believe that some people with mental health problems are dangerous. In fact, they are at a higher risk of being attacked or harming themselves than hurting other people.
  • the media. Media reports often link mental illness with violence or portray people with mental health problems as dangerous, criminal, evil, or severely disabled and unable to live normal, fulfilled lives.

If you experience stigma or discrimination, you need not feel self-doubt and shame. You don't have to compare yourself to others or isolate yourself. Instead, access support and become involved in your own treatment.

If you feel able, you can become an advocate for your own and other people’s mental health and wellbeing. You can challenge stigma by showing people reliable information about what your diagnosis means. Or you can share your experience of how you are feeling, breaking down the barriers for some people who may find talking about mental health especially challenging.

Managing depression and anxiety

Here are a few self-care tips to help you better manage depression and/or anxiety on a day-to-day basis.

  • Talk to someone you trust: you might feel relieved to express how you are feeling. Having someone listen and show they care can help.
  • Engage in social support: peer support connects people and can also help you share ideas about staying well.
  • Look after your physical health: getting enough sleep to give you energy, eating a healthy balanced diet, and doing physical activity have been shown to improve your mental wellbeing.
  • Be creative: you could write a journal about how you are feeling or make a self-care box for when you feel low or anxious. You could even involve yourself in new hobbies and interests such as art, photography, or cooking.

What can I do to help myself cope when feeling suicidal?

If you feel overwhelmed or have thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life, there are steps you can take to feel safe.

It can be beneficial to create a safety plan which contains your reasons for living, your warning signs or triggers, ways that can lift your mood, distractions and techniques that help you cope, and a list of contacts. These contacts can be both within your immediate family and circle of friends as well as professional contacts such as the NHS 111 Mental Health Crisis team. It’s important you reach out for help if you are feeling suicidal.

Every life matters have a helpful guide on making your own safety plan.

Planning for the day, using a journal to write down any negative thoughts you have, and trying relaxation and breathing exercises can also be help you manage on a daily basis and give yourself some structure and routine.

Numbers and resources

If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself, or concerned for someone you know, you can call Papyrus on 0800 068 4141, or Samaritans on 116 123, for confidential advice and support.

If you need a friendly chat about how you’re feeling and the support that is available to you at Essex, come and speak with the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service (SWIS). You can contact SWIS either by email at wellbeing@essex.ac.uk, or by coming to the Wellbeing Assessment service.

During evenings and weekends, you can contact the 24-Hour Student Wellbeing Support Line on 0800 970 5020. You can also access our SilverCloud and Togetherall online support programmes at any time.