The charity’s founder and CEO is a survivor of suicidal crisis. She set up the charity in 2012 because she couldn’t find the type of help she needed. She felt that there was a need for a new crisis service which would provide a different approach and ethos from that of psychiatric crisis teams. Our first Suicide Crisis Centre was set up in 2013. Our services have evolved to provide what our clients say they want and need.
The charity has expanded to carry out national and international suicide prevention initiatives.
The founder of Suicide Crisis explained her reasons for setting up the charity:-
“On 27th March 2012 I had a traumatic experience that changed my life. It was ten days after a significant bereavement, and this meant that I was more vulnerable to having a more severe reaction to the subsequent trauma.
Within days of the traumatic event, I started to experience flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive thoughts. These were symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I did not recognise them as such, at the time. I felt that I could not live with the knowledge of what I had experienced – an experience that I was constantly re-living in my head. Within days I developed suicidal thoughts, and as these became more frequent, I sought help from an out of hours GP.
The mental health crisis services that were available didn’t work for me. It’s often the case that a large mental health crisis team may be involved in your care, involving eight or more team members – meaning that a different member of the NHS crisis team may come out and see you each time. After such a deeply traumatic experience, I needed continuity of care and to be able to build up trust with a small team. NHS crisis support generally lasts between two and four weeks.
In terms of the charitable sector, The Samaritans are an excellent and highly respected organisation, but, again, I would speak to a different person each time. That also meant repeating traumatic information again and again to different people. I needed to feel that I was known to a team, who would know my history, thus avoiding the situation where I had to constantly tell different professionals about it.
On being discharged from the crisis team, I was told that psychological therapy was what I needed. However, there would be a waiting time of at least 8 months.
In that intervening period, whilst waiting for psychological therapy, my mental health deteriorated and I attempted suicide on more than one occasion.
I have no previous history of suicide attempts.
People who have PTSD and/or a dissociative disorder are at increased risk of suicide. Research shows that they are particularly at risk of multiple suicide attempts (research from the Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York).
The suicide attempts have left me with long-term physical damage.
This experience was the driving force behind the setting up of the charity. This gap in services needed to be filled, so we set up a Trauma Centre in May 2013 – part of our early intervention strategy.
A few months later, in autumn 2013, we set up our Suicide Crisis Centre. I wanted to set up the kind of suicide intervention services that would have helped me – small team, continuity of care, individualised support programme, and team members who were highly skilled and highly trained, who were also caring, kind, empathic and sensitive to the needs of our clients.
I started to make plans to set up the charity Suicide Crisis in the summer of 2012, while I was still in crisis. It has been suggested that dissociation (which was diagnosed by psychiatrists) allowed me to detach from the emotional pain which I was experiencing at the time.
Trauma has many negative effects. However, the person that I was before the traumatic experience could not have developed this charity. The difficulties and huge challenges would have defeated my previous self. The experience of trauma has given me a determination and a tenacity that I didn’t have before.
We know that this charity is offering something different. We are being accessed by clients who say they would not have used other services. They are exactly the clients that we wanted to reach – those who were not accessing help and whose silence about their suicidality put them at greater risk.
Our Suicide Crisis Centres are here for anyone in Gloucestershire who is feeling suicidal, not just those who have been through traumatic experiences.
The charity is no longer just about my experience. Our first few clients helped our services to evolve into the unique model of service which we have now. This is truly a crisis service which is driven by lived experience.”
“Suicide Prevention Techniques: How a Suicide Crisis Service Saves Lives” is a book about our Suicide Crisis Centre and our methods, ethos and approach. It’s published by Hachette UK. The book is raising money for our charity – the author’s royalties are going directly to Suicide Crisis. It’s available from most booksellers in the UK and worldwide: https://www.waterstones.com/book/suicide-prevention-techniques/joy-hibbins/9781785925498
Joy’s earlier book, written in 2015, is an account of her journey through mental health services, and her battle to overcome the prejudice and scepticism which she encountered, as a psychiatric patient setting up a crisis service: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Suicide-Crisis-Story-Joy-Hibbins/dp/1326396048/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=