Our attendance at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Suicide and Self Harm Prevention

Our CEO attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Suicide and Self Harm Prevention. She spoke about open-access psychiatric crisis services, the training of psychiatric crisis teams, the waiting times for psychological therapy under secondary mental health services and issues relating to mental capacity and suicide.

Last month she attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees. Her focus was on how we can ensure that refugees receive the mental health support and services that they need. The meeting focused particularly on Afghan refugees, many of whom are still waiting to be housed in this country. Our CEO worked with refugees and asylum seekers in the past and she will continue to be involved in APPG meetings.

We provide suicide prevention awareness training for the British Transport Police and the NHS

We have provided another suicide prevention awareness training session for the British Transport Police for their police officers in England and Wales. Next month we will be providing suicide prevention awareness training sessions for staff in an NHS Trust in London which provides psychiatric services.

The training is based on the methods, approach and ethos that we use at our Suicide Crisis Centre. We have also been providing this training for charities and specialist health services.

Our “Saving Lives” blog website: a new learning resource

The new “Saving Lives” blog website features articles written by Joy, the founder and CEO of Suicide Crisis. It includes new articles, as well as some of her articles featured in national newspapers including “Men and suicide: what they are telling us about the kind of care they need”, “Please don’t call us difficult to engage” and Ellie’s story: why we need to treat addiction and mental illness together” (on page 3 of the blog website).

“Please don’t call us difficult to engage” has been used as a learning resource in training events for mental health professionals in different parts of the UK. It has attracted the comment “Every clinician should read this”. This is the link to the website: https://www.savinglives.blog/

National and local awards for our team

Joy, our Founder and CEO, was named in the Independent newspaper’s “Happy List” 2019. The list is “an antidote to awards that celebrate wealth or celebrity”. The Happy List celebrates people in the UK who “give rather than take”. Everyone on the list is ranked equally, and Joy was listed in particular for kindness.

And locally, our Allan Fawlk was awarded Volunteer of the Year at the “Pride of the Cotswolds” 2019 awards, which was organised by local newspapers. Allan is a support worker, accompanying our team members on emergency home visits to our clients.

Our Oxford Conference: a focus on men and suicide

At our recent Oxford conference we talked about our work and how we have achieved zero suicide. There was a particular focus on men and suicide, and we are extremely grateful to our male clients who spoke at the event. It was hosted by an Oxford University college.

Although we didn’t ask for feedback, many people who attended emailed us afterwards and their comments included: ‘inspirational and moving seminar’ ‘simply amazing, thought-provoking, inspiring and moving in every way’ ‘bowled over by the heartfelt, courageous inspirational talks’ ‘important and insightful…. what a wonderful charity’ ‘sharing unique experiences with honesty, bravery and humour’, ‘the presentations…left a profound impact on me’

Huge thanks to St Edmund Hall (part of Oxford University) for making it possible. Thanks to BBC News South for covering the event.

Please Don’t Call Us ‘Difficult To Engage’

Joy has written a piece for the Huffington Post about people who psychiatric services sometimes describe as “difficult to engage”. She explains that we need to understand why people aren’t engaging. Services have a responsibility to help people to connect with them and there are implications for a person’s suicide risk if they don’t. The link to the Huffington Post piece is below:-


All Party Parliamentary Group (Suicide)

Joy was invited to a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Suicide and Self Harm Prevention in Parliament on Tuesday. She raised the issue of the importance of mental health teams being prepared to liaise with, and listen to, organisations in the voluntary sector such as Suicide Crisis. She pointed out the dangers of an unwillingness to listen to information that we attempt to share with them (with the client’s consent). She also commented on the importance of recognising that the staff in survivor-led, user-led charities are well-trained professionals, in a professional role, and mental health teams should not not underestimate the skills that they have, or the value of what they can contribute.

Alcohol Related Deaths

Gloucestershire has twice the number of alcohol-related deaths than the regional average. This week we attended the funeral of a client who died because of alcohol-related issues. We are seeing an increasing number of clients who are alcohol dependent.

Our distress at her death is magnified because we believe that it could have been prevented.

People usually become alcohol dependent because they are using alcohol to block out  severe emotional pain, or because they have mental health issues (including depression and PTSD) and are attempting to use alcohol to block out the distressing symptoms. In PTSD these symptoms may include flashbacks of the event. Our client was clinically depressed (and was on anti-depressants) and had severe symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She drank particularly heavily at night to try to block out the terrifying nightmares she had.

She needed help and support with the underlying issues that caused her to drink. However, NHS mental health services will often refuse to provide mental health services if a person is alcohol dependent. Our client was discharged from NHS mental health services in the summer. She was told that they would offer services again when she had been free of alcohol for a month. We expressed our concern that all her risks would increase as a result of this discharge. She was extremely distressed that she had been discharged. Apparently they could not ‘forward plan’ while she was drinking, they said. Our response was “But surely you can still support her? Because we seem to be able to.”

NHS crisis services would not take her onto their caseload. We urged then to, but they didn’t.

At home, alone, clinically depressed and experiencing overwhelming symptoms of PTSD, she was not able to stop drinking.

Ten days before she died of pancreatitis, we emailed statutory services urging them to admit her to residential rehab, and stating very clearly that we were convinced she would die, if they didn’t. We were told that she needed to show motivation to reduce her drinking before she could be considered for this. We emailed back to question how she could show motivation at this time, when she was clinically depressed. A lack of motivation is often a symptom of clinical depression. Shake off your depression, and then we will help you? How does that work? When is that ever possible?

Is this what happens when a person is mentally unwell and then becomes alcohol dependent? Does everyone just stand back and watch it happen? We feel, as a charity, that we have had to watch her die. We could support her but we could not treat her PTSD or clinical depression or her addiction. It needed other services to do that. It is profoundly distressing to us that our client, who we had come to know well, and who we cared about, has died in this manner. We do not want this to happen again.

Our county has twice as many alcohol-related deaths as the regional average, and twice as many suicides as the national average (2010-2012 statistics). What is being done, at county level, to address this?