Today I attended the choose life conference @ Stonefield Castle near Tarbet.
Choose life are an organisation whose purpose is to support initiatives that seek to help reduce the suicide rate in Scotland.
Scotland has one of the highest suicide rates in Western Europe, particularly in men. Suicide is the largest single cause of death in males under 35.
Suicide rates are almost always higher in areas of deprivation- in urban areas. However, when you control for deprivation, the next highest risk group are older men in rural areas. Strangely enough, living in rural areas seems to be a protective factor for women, but the opposite for men.
Speculation about the causal factors behind these figures might include the availability of instruments of greater violence in rural situations- farmers and forestry workers who have access to fire arms, and the isolation and poor support networks for people living and working in such situations.
Perhaps above all things however, people are at most risk when they become unable to think positively about the future- when they have lost hope.
Choose life run courses that help people think about the issue of suicide, and how we might help one another to spot those who are at risk, and access the help that might be needed.
Today there was also someone there from Breathing Space, a telephone/online helpline which attracts thousands and thousands of calls, and was originally aimed towards young men. Give it a try- here.
Christians deal in hope. It is this that Jesus gave us above all things. Hope of a world blessed by grace and beauty, and the possibility of healing and renewal. The New Kingdom- promised and possible- here right now.
And because of this, wherever we might be able to see increase of the things of the Kingdom- wherever we might be able to fan the flames of hope- there we should be, I reckon.