Many thanks to Garry Poulson, Chairman of West Berkshire Suicide Prevention Action Group, for sharing this article.
Suicide Prevention – What You Can Do to Help
The profound and shocking event of a suicide of a close relative, spouse, friend or colleague is amongst the greatest emotional trauma that a human can suffer. The effects of a suicide amongst us are long lasting and leave many unanswered questions for those left behind or a severe emotional trauma for those that may have been unwittingly implicated as witnesses to such an event.
What could we have done? What did we miss ? If only I had listened to them, if only they had told me how they were feeling. These are the rational questions that may arise after the event. If you are an employer, do we have a policy at work to support people who are coping with stress and anxiety, is there a well-being element to work-place appraisals or opportunities for staff to discuss work-place stresses ?
Research shows that people are afraid of raising the subject of suicide with someone who may have said that they had thoughts of ‘ending it all’.
Rationality and perspective usually departs those people who are thinking about taking their own life. Research shows that people who want to take their own life don’t want to die. How odd that may sound. But the research tells us that people actually want their circumstances to change and in their moment of irrationality they feel that the only way to change their life is to end it.
It is OK to Ask Questions
It is OK to talk to people about how they are feeling. It is OK to ask people if they are considering taking their own life. These questions do not raise the idea of suicide in the mind of the person who is suffering, rather it raises an opportunity for them to talk about their current circumstances and why they may be having suicidal thoughts.
A common reaction to this may be ‘good god no – I’m not that bad and I wouldn’t want to do that to my family.’ This is good because at least you will know that their life may not be in danger. If their answer is yes, it may then prompt further questions about what their circumstances are, and what you as a family member, friend, colleague or employer may be able to do to alleviate some of the stresses in their life.
It is also OK to ask if they have they planned how they would do it. If they say yes and tell you about the method then it is good to try to remove that method out of their reach or arrange for someone to be with them until the suicidal thoughts have passed (suicidal thoughts are almost always temporary).
Peoples’ struggles may be due to personal relationships, deep financial worries, work-place stress, poor mental health or a combination of all of these things. We can all ask questions or make suggestions such as ‘ have you thought of making an appointment with Citizens Advice who are trained to advise and guide people with a myriad of personal problems.’
If their anxieties are around relationships then organisations such as Relate are available. For younger people in West Berkshire we have an organisation called Time To Talk that specialises in listening to young people. Samaritans is an organisation whose role it is is to talk to people who are suffering and their 24/7 service is there for us all.
The Role of Employers
It is incumbent upon employers to take time to talk to staff, if for example they have displayed different behaviours from the norm. Asking them how things are at home may reveal areas of severe stress that an employer could take into account. It may be that a partner has left the household with children, perhaps the family home is about be repossessed due to catastrophic debt problems. Employers can help in a number of ways. Perhaps by discussing options with staff, perhaps guide them to expert services, maybe time off to help solve their problems, overtime may help with money worries or perhaps an employer could fast track them to an in-house counselling service and of course ensuring that their employee goes to see their family doctor who will be able to refer to expert services within the NHS such as Talking Therapies and others.
If you or someone you know is seeking help and advice, here is a small selection of the resources that are available locally. These organisations will be able to assist and or direct you to organisations who are able to help.
Samaritans please use 116 123
SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide) 0300 1115065
Charlie Waller Memorial Trust supports young people to stay well mentally
Mental Health Mates – ‘Helping you find your we. Because you are not alone.’
• West Berkshire
Citizens Advice West Berkshire 0300 222 5941
Mental Health Mates Newbury email@example.com
Talking Therapies Berkshire 0300 365 2000
Relate in Newbury 0118 987 6161
Time To Talk 01635 760331
Racing Welfare in Lambourn 01488 670034
West Berkshire Suicide Prevention Training
Half day suicide prevention training sessions are run by Volunteer Centre West Berkshire which established The West Berkshire Suicide Prevention Action Group in May 2017 in partnership with The West Berkshire Health and Wellbeing Board. Its key aim was to act upon the recommendations made by Darrel Gale, a consultant and Director of Public Health and the author of the Berkshire-wide suicide prevention strategy.
This new group under the leadership of Garry Poulson has brought together around 20 organisations with the key aim of bringing about practical solutions that might prevent suicide and to raise awareness of organisations within West Berkshire which are there to support people who may have been affected by a suicide: these include Racing Welfare, The Coroners Courts,The local Police, Time To Talk, Samaritans, SOBS (Survivors of bereavement due to suicide), West Berkshire Public Health Board, a retired GP, The Newbury Weekly News editor Andy Murrill, West Berkshire Council Highways, former Newbury MP Richard Benyon, former District Councillor James Frederickson, Public-health officers, the Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust and The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust.
To find out when the next Suicide Prevention Training session will be in Newbury please contact Garry Poulson from Volunteer West Berkshire and the Suicide Prevention Action Group on firstname.lastname@example.org