A personal view from Jackie Scruton
Why did I go?
I became involved with Jonathan’s Voice charity about 9 months ago, although I had known of their existence since their inception. However, work commitments meant it was only recently I had time to give to the charity. I wanted to learn more about reducing the stigma of mental ill-health and attendance at the conference I hoped, would enable me think how to do this. For as long as I can remember I have been interested in people and what makes individuals tick. This led me in my late teens to train as a Samaritan. Looking back, I wonder how, knowing what I do now with my life experiences, I had the confidence to apply, the joys of youth! My five years as a volunteer taught me one significant lesson: the importance of really listening and empowering individuals to speak up.
Throughout my working life I have like most of us have had times when I have felt the pressure of work impact on my emotional well-being. On a personal level I know the importance of keeping fit and undertaking physical exercise, be it swimming, cycling or running (I have enjoyed participating in sprint triathlons)
It was important for me to really start to further my knowledge on all matters concerned with mental well-being and how to help reduce the stigma of mental ill -health.
- What did I learn from the day?
- Sadly, after three years of the suicide rate dropping the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)(2018) show rates have risen, particularly for men and young people under the age of 25.
- Worryingly the ONS identify there has been a 12% rise in suicide rates in one year. The single biggest rise since 2014.
- The ONS also indicates a rise in self harm in middle aged men and this may link to the rise in the male suicide rate. It is apparent that this also links to economic background and the use of alcohol.
- People leaving hospital are at high risk of suicide in the first week and day three is the biggest risk ‘day’
- The importance of working with survivors. The need to ensure we ask ‘What is going on for you?’ ‘What is different now?’ We must encourage and listen to survivors, to help inform policy and practice. It is important to use suicide as a lived experience.
- Government departments all have a work plan – aimed at embedding good mental health practice across their departments, such ‘”small talk saves lives” (Dept. of Transport/ Samaritans) https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/campaign/small-talk-saves-lives/
- ONS or the University mental health charter and green paper on mental health for children and young people (Dept for Education)
- A fantastic idea; ‘happy to share my table’ read about it here https://happytoshare.co.uk/
Thank you to all at the NSPA https://www.nspa.org.uk/home/news-events/nspa-conference-2020/ for arranging the day. I left feeling I have a much stronger understanding of the issues regarding suicide, but above all I met some inspiring people. Long may they continue to support the understanding and preventing death by suicide.
University Mental Health Charter