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?


A very warm welcome to Kate, a psychologist, who will be offering support to clients within our Trauma Centre.  Kate is pictured below. And a special welcome to Hilary, who joined us last week. Hilary is a very experienced bereavement counsellor, and she will be supporting suicidal clients. Hilary is also planning to be one of our clinical supervisors, as she has experience in this area. She will join Vivien and Edison in providing clinical supervision for our team.  We are extremely fortunate to have them with us.

k hill

Tom’s Picture

We love this picture, which was presented to us by Tom, who is a client. He drew it and framed it, and it’s now displayed in our Suicide Crisis Centre. It’s very special to us, and we are hugely grateful to Tom for this gift.

Tom Eye Pic Framed

University Internship

Our thanks and best wishes to Carla, from the University of Gloucestershire, who has just completed an internship with Suicide Crisis.

Thank you

Thank you very much indeed to Sainsbury’s, Bath Road, Cheltenham, who have made Suicide Crisis their charity of the year. Wonderful news for our clients and our team.

Gloucestershire Echo article

Scan0038Thank you very much to the Gloucestershire Echo for this article which highlights the number of men accessing our service.

The article explains that the majority of men accessing our service are suicidal as a result of bereavement or relationship break up. A significant proportion of our male clients have said they would not seek help from other sources, including their GP or closest relatives.



A Client’s Perspective

“What you have set up works. What you are doing and how you do it works. I am still here as proof and I know that without you there is a very good chance that I would not have been.”

Our profound thanks to our client for allowing us to share the content of many weeks of emails he has sent us, in which he documents his journey and the contact he has had with us. He hopes that his experience will encourage other people to seek help.

Men Outnumber Women At Crisis Centre

We are currently seeing more men than women at our Suicide Crisis Centre. We’re being told that it’s because we are seen as completely independent. Our male clients are often reluctant to see their GP or seek help from statutory services – for many reasons.

Men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women and it is often stated that they are less likely to seek help. Our independence (from statutory services) seems to be encouraging men to use our services.