Thursday 10th September 2020
For people who are feeling vulnerable or distressed, having a strong sense of connection is an important part of suicide prevention. Connection can come in many forms: we can connect with friends and family, have connections through activities, or with nature and the arts.
Being distracted from suicidal thoughts and engaging in activities to take time away from the difficulties can also help to lift the mood for those with suicidal thoughts at whatever level or intensity. For those of us not feeling distressed, being able to make connections with someone we think may be struggling, to give someone the opportunity to share with us how they are feeling, can really help.
Covid-19 has affected us all in different ways and brought new or increased challenges for many. But there has also been a positive impact of new connections, often with neighbours and within communities. This year, we focused on exploring Connection this World Suicide Prevention Day and hope that it helped everyone think about how we can reach out and offer connection, helping ourselves and others who may be struggling.
Below is a range of ideas on ways of connecting:
- Connecting with nature
- Connecting with the arts
- Connecting with yourself
- Connecting with suicide prevention
- Connecting with neighbours
- Connecting with communities
- Connecting with friends and family
- Connecting with colleagues
Connecting with nature
For many, nature felt more noticeable and more important during lockdown, and it can be helpful as a source of distraction, focus and beauty.
- Ideas for activities: MIND have come up with Tips for everyday nature ideas
- Seasonal activities: Thriving With Nature is a guide from The Mental Health Foundation and WWF
- Nature during lockdown: Huffpost article on how people have noticed and responded to nature
- Relaxing nature on TV: BBC Studios and Headspace Studios collaborated on 4 episodes of Mindful Escapes: Breathe, Change, Joy and Rest
- Bird watching camera and birdsong radio: RSPB
- Gardening for well-being: RHS article on important gardens and plants are for our physical, mental, and social wellbeing
Connecting with the arts
From listening to music, watching theatre or drawing a picture, the arts can lift our mood, express difficult emotions or simply help us relax.
- Virtual museum and gallery tours: the 10 best from around the world, according to this article in the Guardian
- Theatre free online: WhatsOnStage regularly update this list
- Crafting at home: the Craft Council's Summer Craft Challenge shared ideas for people to try at home
- Knitting: from how to get started to finding a knitting community in this article from the Evening Standard
- How and why the arts can help: article from The Mental Health Foundation
Connecting with yourself
Noticing how you’re feeling and taking care of yourself are important ways to improve your mood and mental health.
- NHS advice: staying well at home during Covid-19
- Mind resources: Mindfulness, Food & Mood and Physical Activity
- Every Life Matters leaflet: Looking after yourself & others during COVID-19 includes tips on managing stress and anxiety, working well from home, and looking out for others
- Samaritans self-help app: this app can help you track your mood, notice patterns, find practical tips and techniques, and create a safety plan
- Staying Alive app: this app can help someone with suicidal thoughts to stay safe
Connecting with suicide prevention
We can all play a role in preventing suicide, and there are lots of ways you could begin to make a difference.
- Training: from 20 minutes suicide awareness training online (e.g.Zero Suicide Alliance) to an in-depth 2-day course in suicide prevention (e.g. ASIST)
- Talking safely: It’s safe to talk about suicide is a leaflet on what you could say or do if you are worried that someone may be thinking about suicide
- Noticing when someone might be at risk: read more on PAPYRUS' website here
Use your lived experience: join the NSPA's lived experience network and help influence suicide prevention policy and practice. Read more here
Connecting with neighbours
Whether a smile or wave through a window, chatting over the fence or working together on a local project, neighbours can help us feel less lonely and more hopeful.
- Get to know your neighbours: tips from Action for Happiness
- Connect online: nextdoor.co.uk helps you find out what's happening locally and communicate with neighbours
- Stories of connecting: from creating communal space to street aerobics, COVID-19 has brought neighbours closer together according to this Guardian article
Connecting with communities
Sharing an interest, hobby or faith can lead to building connection and trust across differences.
- Mutual aid groups: read a great example of what these groups have done during lockdown in Lambeth, and find your local Mutal Aid Group here
- LGBT+: Stonewall created a directory of LGBT services and community groups in local areas
- Exercise: Goodgym has local groups that help increase motivation to exercise and improve your local area
- Men's Sheds: this group is building community spaces for men to connect, converse and create, reducing isolation and loneliness
- Online classes: Skill Share host classes that include Photography, Digital Poster Design, Animation, Game Design and more
Connecting with friends and family
Friends and family can be one of the most important sources of support and connection, whether you live miles apart or in the same home.
- Playing games: board game sales have increased, and others have begun playing free games online whilst physically apart
- Activities over video: 12 activities for all ages to enjoy over video call
- Activities with children: Green Network Energy shared 26 fun and creative activities for children during lockdown
- Building connection: Bupa shared ideas including movie nights while apart, listening to each other and sharing your simple pleasures
- Send a postcard: Whether people have access to the internet or not, receiving a postcard or letter can let family and friends know you are thinking of them
Connecting with colleagues
Some of the newer ways of working may have interfered with the brief chat in the corridor, but there are ways to reach out, make contacts and connections and help support each other.
- Team-building: helping teams get to know one another and connect can be supported with these 15 remote team building games and activities from Miro
- Support well-being: Wellness Action Plans can help individuals or managers better understand and support well-being. Mind have resources for staff and managers here
- Team well-being: STORM Skills Training CIC created a resource that they have found helpful to support a team conversation about emotional wellbeing here
- Create social time: many NSPA members who are working remotely have built in unstructured chat either during the week or at the beginning of meetings to recreate the kitchen or corridor conversations, helping staff feel less isolated
- Ideas from NW Counselling Hub: “We wouldn’t be able to operate without the dedication, care and commitment of our volunteers and management team, so I sent out gifts and thank you cards. We opened each Zoom meeting with a funny theme such as what’s your favourite biscuit or wear a funny hat, to create social time and help us to get to know each other; and one of our counsellors closed meetings with a song to help bring us together again.”
- Ideas from Mind Allies: "We try to create a positive, forward-looking environment for our volunteers, and understanding the strain of the lockdown we set up a weekly video call to help them socialise and check in, and we established an internal support line for them. Some were laid off from their jobs, and we provided CV-writing advice and job-hunting support.”
Many thanks to our project team and their organisations: Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Healthwatch Wakefield, NHS Business Services Authority, Nightline Association, PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, National Probation Service – London, Rethink Mental Illness, Samaritans, Stigma Statistics, Storm Skills Training, West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, and Catherine Astey.