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Article date - 10 September 2018
As part of the awareness-raising day, over 90 people made up of St Helens council members, council staff, and staff members from local health organisations, attended a training session in St Helens Town Hall which involved completing an online, interactive suicide prevention training course, created by the Zero Suicide Alliance (www.zerosuicidealliance.com )
The purpose of the training is to provide techniques to enable people to reach out and talk to someone they may be concerned about. This is available for anyone in the community to undertake and help them understand the issues and how to deal with them.
Key to achieving the council’s ambition of zero suicide rates in the borough is the establishment of a revised suicide prevention action plan for 2018.
Approved by the People’s Board in July this year, the plan advises supporting action in four main areas: prevention; safer care; support for those bereaved by suicide; and intelligence - with a particular focus on working with primary care and mental health services; developing a system to minimise the risk of further suicides in communities with high rates, identifying general practice patients at higher risk to improve their support, and improving community awareness of suicide prevention.
In a bid to raise public perception of mental health and wellbeing, St Helens Council’s Health Living Team has been actively involved in national and local projects on the subject over the years, including the service’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing’ initiative ; the mental health awareness-raising ‘Time to Talk’ campaign – as well as holding well-attended events to support World Mental Health Week and Suicide Prevention Day such as a picnic in the park get-together in Taylor Park last Saturday (8 September).
St Helens Council’s portfolio holder for public health, Councillor Gill Neal, said: “Suicide is a particularly complex and challenging issue which is often linked with unemployment; job insecurity; mental illness; substance abuse and chronic pain.
"Impulsivity – the tendency to act without thinking about the consequences of our actions - is a huge factor for suicide which is why the zero suicide training is essential if this community wants to tackle the number of people taking their own lives in St Helens.
“By asking the direct question anyone can ensure friends or family members can be made safe. The community needs to be clear – suicide is not inevitable, and one person taking their life is one too many.
“That’s why we’ve made it absolute priority to work closely with our partnership to reduce suicide rates in the borough, and end the taboo around mental health. Our ambition, like our partners across Cheshire and Merseyside, is to make the St Helens a place that supports people in times of crisis, builds individual and community resilience and where people do not consider suicide as a solution to the problems that they face. We are working closely with our partners such as the NHS, Police, Fire and Rescue, voluntary sector and the wider population to bring this about.”
A wide range of services are available in St Helens for anyone wanting to talk about their mental health and wellbeing.
For more information, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/mentalhealthsupport