YOUNG people from North Ayrshire are behind a new campaign to help prevent suicides amongst their peers.

A series of animations – featuring voiceovers from local young people – will be run on social media over the upcoming weeks to encourage young people to support their friends when they see them struggling. Each will have a poignant message providing different ways – both practical and emotional – in which you can help a friend during difficult times.

The council is being supported by the North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and Police Scotland. All social media posts will be delivered by the council’s Youth Services team.

The start of of the ‘13 Ways to Support your Friend if they are struggling’ campaign coincided with Suicide Prevention Week, which ran from September 10-16. The first animation of the campaign was issued last Thursday.

Councillor Robert Foster, Cabinet member for Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We want young people to reach out to each other and make it easier to talk about difficult feelings and find someone they trust to help seek support.

“It’s great that the young people have been so actively involved in this campaign. Without their input we wouldn’t have a campaign.

“Talking openly about their feelings can help a person get clarity about what is troubling them.

“Starting this conversation helps them gain a perspective on their distress. You don’t need to have a solution to their problems – being there for them and listening, without judgement, shows that you care and their distress, and ultimately their happiness, is important to you.”

Sarah Watts Choose Life Co-ordinator/Suicide Prevention Lead in North Ayrshire said: “If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, you will normally notice.

“When changes in their behaviour begin to worry you – even if the signs come and go – the most important aspect is to ask them about it.

“Ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought into their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to open up fully and acknowledge they need help and support.

“By taking the time to show you care and are there to listen, you could change their life.”

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “Every life matters and no death by suicide should be regarded as either acceptable or inevitable.

“Over the past decade, Scotland has made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide but we want to go further. Our view is that suicide is preventable, and where anyone contemplating suicide or who has lost a loved one to suicide should get the support they need.”