If someone told you they were feeling suicidal, would you know what to do?
As we approach the end of the year I’m looking back at some of the achievements I have been actively involved in. One aspect of my work I am very proud of is the Suicide Prevention Training Programme that I jointly deliver with Monika Gos, Clinical & Counselling Psychologist. This year we delivered three training events to over fifty members of staff from our service.
Our message within the training programme is clear: every service user is at risk of suicide. Much of the suicide risk applies to those who suffer from mental health problems, although suicidal thoughts are not always overtly related to mental ill-health. We also know that alcohol misuse increases the risk of suicide attempts and self-poisoning by opiates is the second most common method of fatality after hanging.
Without a doubt, we need to talk about suicide. Suicide is often preventable and avoidable. Most people who have suicidal thoughts do not want to die but to them ending their life seems like the only option. We have a responsibility to support those at risk to stay safe. Talking about suicide can make all the difference. It helps stop the intensity of those feelings and allows us time to get appropriate support.
Our training focuses on providing participants with the knowledge and skills to recognise and develop plans to reduce risk and thus increase the safety of the individual. The strength of the programme is in skills practice and professional development. Monika and I strongly believe in the benefits of role play as a learning technique. It helps participants practice challenging conversations whilst building on listening skills.
This year there has been increasing public awareness of suicide prevention. Every major public intervention helps in raising awareness. Locally we have worked closely with the Spot the Signs and Save a Life Campaign - a local well-established suicide prevention campaign in Hertfordshire helping to remove the stigma of talking openly about suicide. They provide training courses and signpost to mental health services available in Hertfordshire. The Small Talk Saves Lives Campaign is another campaign run by the Samaritans, British Transport Police, Network Rail and Train Operators. It promotes a simple message – “a little small talk is all it takes to help someone on their journey to recovery – trust your instincts, have a little chat”.
The Zero Suicide Alliance is a collaboration between NHS Trusts, businesses and charities, all committed to suicide prevention. Together they have produced a powerful and informative online free training course on suicide prevention. Take 20 minutes of your time to learn lifesaving skills.
And finally, if you have been affected by suicide in any way, personally or professionally, or know someone else affected by suicide, ensure all the necessary help is sought. You may be interested in the help available through Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide and, if you are a member of staff at CGL, the counselling and emotional support available from our Employee Assistance Programme.
You may also want to participate in a short survey about your experience of being affected by suicide and about the support you may or may not have received. The survey is part of a research study into the Impact of Suicide in the UK, which is a collaboration between the Partnership and the University of Manchester.
For more information on our training programme please contact Anna Marie Felice, Nurse Clinical Lead.