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Health services unite to raise awareness of suicide prevention

Suicide Prevention Team are (left to right, Kate King, Snug the dog, Becky Fox and Helen Lee-Savage

Cornwall's health and care partnership is using World Mental Health Day to promote suicide prevention. As well as highlighting the local support available, the key message is we all have a role to play.

Rebecca Fox, Suicide Prevention Lead, at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust explains why:

“People make assumptions when they hear the word ‘suicide.’ We might think it affects more men than women, or young rather than old people. However, the reality is that anyone may be at risk of suicide.”

Researchers into suicide have identified 3 common factors in those who take their own life:

  1. People who have experienced trauma and have normalised frightening or dangerous situations. It could include people who are considered ‘thrill seekers’ and can also include professionals who come into frequent contact with illness or death
  2. People feeling that they do not have a role to play or value to add. It might impact those who are in pain, retired, or unemployed or anyone who feels that they are not contributing to their family or local community
  3. People who experience lack of meaningful relationships or connections with other people.

Rebecca and her team train professionals within the Trust and work with organisations like the police and local charities to promote suicide prevention. She says,

“When someone ends their life, on average 135 people are impacted including immediate family, friends, and those in the person’s wider circle. And anyone touched by that death might feel regret, guilt, or responsible in some way. This includes professionals who were supporting that person.

“However, we can turn this sense of responsibility about suicide around. The Trust offers support for people through our 24/7 Crisis Line. We also offer excellent support for families impacted by suicide.

“But we can all make it our responsibility to ‘connect’ with others. We can all check-in with friends or have a conversation with someone at the supermarket or bus stop. We can encourage someone to join a group or reach out over social media. We can’t always know our impact on others, but these small interactions could be the connection that stops someone from ending their life.”

Cornwall Council’s Public Health and Healthy Cornwall teams are working in partnership to provide the Orange Button Scheme, training a network of people who can signpost information to those thinking of ending their life. The Orange Button is worn by people who have undergone mental health first aid or suicide prevention training.

Cornwall Council’s Suicide Prevention Lead, Paula Chappell, comments:

“We now have 1,767 people registered to the scheme. Whilst the Orange Button wearers do not offer counselling, they can help people find relevant services. The high volumes of interest in training shows that we have people in the county who want to be part of a supportive, connected community. And if there are more people aware of these issues, we can break down the stigma stopping people from asking for help.”

Rebecca agrees: “We need to break down perceived barriers. No one is immune to mental health issues. No one is immune to suicide. It is only when we talk about our feelings that we can do something about them.”

Mental health help and support

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