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'Reach out' plea to prevent suicide in Wales

image captionMalan Wilkinson hit a new crisis point over the summer and asked for help

"One morning it just hit me like a switch going on. I was in an awful place and I didn't feel as though I was going to live past midday that day."

It was a crisis point for Malan Wilkinson. She reached out for help.

Now, she is urging others hitting their crisis point to do the same, and help cut suicides in Wales.

On World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday, the 32-year-old from Gwynedd said that small step can be part of a longer journey to better mental health.

"There is no one answer to every crisis," she said.

"But through the right support and having important conversations, people can find answers that help them through adversity and difficult periods in their lives.

"It's really important that people who are struggling reach out to people they really trust."

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Malan learnt her lesson the hard way.

In June 2017 she was just moments away from killing herself, when a complete stranger intervened.

image captionIt is now over a year since 'Good Samaritan' Gwyn Roberts stopped Malan killing herself

Malan, from Caernarfon, spent the next two months being treated in a psychiatric unit at Bangor's Ysbyty Gwynedd.

But in June this year, she had hit rock bottom again. Only this time, she knew what to do.

Malan reached out to her community psychiatric nurse.

"Two hours made a whole lot of difference and by the end of that day I had a plan in place with my community psychiatric nurse," she said.

She was determined not to return to hospital, and instead set herself an ambitious challenge of completing a 100km recovery walk - raising over £700 for a mental health campaign in the process.

"It was so difficult because I was in such a bad place," Malan recalled.

"Just doing normal things like brushing my hair and teeth were huge. I'm not somebody who has done exercise regularly and walking 5km at the time just seemed impossible.

"At first it was a challenge to get me through the crisis I was in, but it's served as more than that really.

"It's been about sustaining and living a life that I want to live and that I can live. The best thing is it's changed my mind frame."


image copyrightThinkstock
image captionSuicide remains the biggest killer of men under the age of 50

About 360 people took their own life in Wales last year - that is about twice the number killed in road accidents, according to Public Health Wales.

Suicide remains one of the biggest killers of men under 50 - and the rate for men killing themselves in Wales was slightly up in 2017, to almost 21 per 100,000 people - above the UK average.

It has led the charity Samaritans to developing a toolkit it is launching on World Prevention Day in Wales, to help those in the workplace to recognise and deal with emotional distress.

The charity said that learning to act with compassion to those in distress can save lives.

"Showing compassion - towards yourself and others - is a skill that can be learned," said Sarah Stone, the Samaritans executive director for Wales.

"Acting compassionately does not require any specific resource, time or money. It just relies on you being able to relate to someone else's emotional state and, crucially, wanting to support them. Compassion can change and save lives."

If you are struggling to cope, you can call Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK and Ireland) or visit the BBC Action Line website.

You can also contact the Community Advice and Listening Line for Wales, which offers a free confidential support service with help to find local mental health services, on 0800 132 737 or text 'Help' to 81066.

Related Topics

  • Caernarfon
  • Suicide prevention
  • Samaritans

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