NHS Borders is launching a new suicide prevention course.

The local health board has given suicide intervention training to 350 people in the last five years. Hundreds more have been told how to recognise signs that someone might be feeling suicidal.

But now a new course has been set up, designed for people involved in the coronavirus community response.

An NHS Borders spokesperson said: "We’ve seen through the response to COVID-19 that communities have come together and offered support to one another at a time when they’ve needed it most.

"This week sees the launch of a new suicide awareness course for people involved in the community response to COVID-19, and the start of our campaign to build caring, connected communities."

This week marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, according to NHS Borders, with Suicide Prevention Awareness Day itself held on Thursday (September 10).

Suicide prevention training helps people to recognise the signs of someone thinking about suicide, and where they can find help.

NHS Borders’ head of health improvement, Fiona Doig, said: "The commitment we’ve seen in our communities and workplaces to suicide prevention continues to build.

"It’s encouraging to see people from across education, health and social care, volunteer groups and other support agencies come forward to learn more about suicide prevention and to be prepared to support someone who is considering suicide.

"Suicide is preventable and we all have a role to play in helping to prevent it.

“If you’re worried that someone is thinking about suicide you should ask them, it could save their life.

“Every day around two people die by suicide in Scotland. Suicide is extremely complex and most of the time there is no single event or factor that leads someone to take their own life.

"Suicidal feelings can impact on anybody at any point in time. Often if someone is thinking about suicide they don’t want to die, they just want the pain to end.

"If suicide is on your mind or you have a plan to end your life, tell someone you trust.

“It’s OK not to be OK and talking about how you are feeling can help you to cope and to get help.

"Support helplines are available for you to reach out to if talking to someone you know feels daunting."

However, even if someone has not taken part in any training, NHS Borders has provided guidance on how everyone can help to prevent suicide.

The health board says talking openly about suicide can help, even if you are not an expert. It also recommends being “suicide ALERT”:

  • Ask if they are thinking about suicide
  • Listen and show you care
  • Encourage them to get help
  • Right now
  • Tell someone

Ms Doig added: "When someone dies by suicide it can have a profound impact on the people around them and especially in a close knit community like the Scottish Borders.

"If you’ve been affected by suicide don’t feel scared to ask for help."

In the Borders, a range of resources can be accessed through NHS Borders' Wellbeing Point, at: www.nhsborders.scot.nhs.uk/wellbeingpoint, which includes the 'Six Ways to be Well' guide.

If you feel suicidal or believe someone you know is thinking of suicide, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 and Breathing Space at 0800 83 85 87.

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBs) national helpline is available to support anyone over 18 who has been bereaved by suicide. The helpline is open every day 9am-9pm on 0300 111 5065.

To find out more about suicide prevention courses, you can email: health.improvement@borders.scot.nhs.uk