One In Eight Feel Suicidal Due To Loneliness

How To Combat Loneliness

Loneliness is such a common feeling, with a quarter of UK adults claiming they have felt lonely at some point just over the last month. However, for some people, this can have big mental health implications, even leaving them suicidal.

The effect of loneliness can be so strong, it is the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which took place May 9th to 15th.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly half of those surveyed admitted loneliness made them feel sad, while 25 per cent said it caused them worry or anxiety, and one in eight asserted that it made them feel so down, they have thought of taking their own lives.

Chief executive of the foundation Mark Rowland said the results show just how much loneliness is affecting the country, with 25 per cent of adults admitting they feel ashamed about being lonely and 25 per cent claiming they would never admit to it.

“Loneliness can be toxic and lead to anxiety and depression and is also associated with increased thoughts of suicide,” he stated.

Therefore, he believes more should be done in society to prevent people from feeling lonely and avoid this mental health crisis.

Young adults, those with existing mental health problems, older people, members of the public who are digitally excluded and minority ethnic groups are more suspectable to loneliness.

According to a Mental Health Foundation report: “There is robust evidence to suggest loneliness is a strong predictor of poor mental health.”

A UK study of people over the age of 50 found that a one-point increase on the loneliness scale led to a 16 per cent rise in the severity of depression symptoms.

The pandemic has exacerbated the problem of loneliness in the UK, thanks to social distancing restrictions and national lockdowns. Indeed, loneliness levels increased from five per cent of the British public to 7.2 per cent by February 2021. This amounted to 3.7 million people admitting to feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’.

Even after the restrictions were lifted, the impact of Covid-19 continues, with the report stating: “The loneliness experienced during the pandemic will continue to have implications for mental health.”

Consequently, the organisation is investing £2 million to help lone parents, refugees, people from minority ethnic groups, and those living with long-term health conditions through the Covid Response Programme. It hopes this will alleviate feelings of loneliness and, subsequently, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety for millions of people in the UK.

It is also encouraging people to help themselves get out of this state. For example, the foundation suggested doing something enjoyable to stay busy, such as taking up a hobby, sorting out cupboards or getting involved in activities. It is also good to do things that are stimulating, as well as stay physical by taking up a sport, going for a walk or dancing around your home.

People were advised to say ‘hello’ to passers-by, despite this being hard when you are feeling lonely and isolated.

“Trying to connect with the people you meet as you go about your day can be helpful,” it stated.

Finding others who have similar interests and experiences as you is important to, whether through local groups or on social media.

While the internet has gained a bad reputation for being negative for mental health, it can also be beneficial for it.

“Finding digital communities, you share interests and passions with can help. Most importantly, be aware of how you feel when you use social media and focus on topics and activities that work best for you,” the foundation advised.

Spending time with pets that “provide us with unconditional love” and talking feelings through with a therapist were suggested as being very effective at alleviating loneliness.

To support Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, you can join its 80 Miles in May Challenge, with participants getting sponsored to jog or walk the distance over the course of the month to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.

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Published: 27 May 2022