At Forward For Life we believe there is one solution we can promote in realising Suicide Safer Communities ….and it’s a very simple one.
Through thee safeTALK course we train up to 25 people in half a day – this training serves as a gatekeeper to individuals who are considering suicide. We believe that through greater engagement in safeTALK at an organisational and community level, people can be directed to the appropriate support with the outcome of saving a life.
The challenge is this – safeTALK trained individuals need to refer people at risk of suicide to ready, willing and able individuals who can implement Suicide First Aid Support (ASIST) through an agreed safety plan – however, organisations who have staff trained in ASIST or have the knowledge and skills to effectively intervene are, although growing in numbers, limited across the region.
Our Combined Approach sees a way through this via brokering agreements with a range of stakeholders to sign up to engaging in safeTALK at a proportional level. This will provide the eyes and ears for every organisation to intervene where suicide ideation is a possible consideration. In addition to this, organisations can engage with ASIST – Forward For Life and Common Unity believe that through proportional representation both within organisations and community groups stakeholders will have both the gatekeeping aspect (safeTALK) and the Suicide First Aid (ASIST) embedded. The Combined Approach is outlined on the following page which demonstrates what is required to be recognised as achieving full recognition as a Suicide Safer Community Organisation.
In Britain each year, over 6000 people kill themselves; that’s 4000 more deaths per year than occur on all our roads – but unlike road safety awareness, suicide prevention is a subject that professionals nor our communities are willing to openly talk about. “It’s time to tackle this problem head on”. It’s time to act. It’s time to Shout Out Suicide.
Suicide is the most common cause of death for men under 35 and each year between 600 and 800 people aged 15-24 take their own lives – That’s the same as the number of people in a small secondary school. Young people must be heard. Are you listening? It’s time to tackle this problem head on. It’s time to act. It’s time to Strike Out Suicide.
It’s tragic that in times of recession more people take their own lives.
In the UK, in 2011 there were over 6,000 suicides in people aged 15 and over – that’s an increase of nearly 10% compared with the year before. It’s time to tackle this problem head on. It’s time to act. It’s time to Stomp Out Suicide.
Suicide rates are increasing across the UK with 3 of 4 suicides being by men; that’s over 4500 men a year, the same number as people who die from Leukaemia each year in the UK – That’s 12 men taking their own lives each day in the UK. It’s time to tackle this problem head on. It’s time to Sort Out Suicide
“I found the ASIST training really useful and it has made me for less worried about talking to someone wanting or thinking about ending their life.”
On-going research continues to best establish which suicide interventions are most effective. To date, we have the evidence to show that ASIST does give care-givers the skills and confidence to put an intervention in place. Recent evidence has also shown that for Crisis Workers on helplines, the ASIST approach is effective in saving lives. But we feel at Forward For Life and Common Unity that there is nothing more convincing than direct narratives from those on the ground who have been trained in ASIST.
So we asked the delegates who had been on our training whether it had been effectively employed in their day to day work – and this is what they said.
“I used the ASIST training (2014) with one of my female offenders. She came for her usual appointment and was stating that she felt the world was coming in on her. She has a diagnosed Personality disorder but the Mental Health teams were not engaged with her. I completed the ASIST approach with her and although she had no plan in place we still looked at reasons to live and reasons to die. I drew a safe plan up with her and agreed with her that she would give me 24 hours.
I referred to Mental Health teams for an assessment gave them all the information as to what i had done thus far for her and insisted that she be given an appointment as early as possible. They assessed and discharged but now have PD team involved and Forensic Mental health team.
Most importantly my client, now feels that she can cope with the interventions I am putting in place with her and has another support network beyond her time with me.”
“I have been supporting a lovely 17 year old student during her restart year after suffering a breakdown in her first year. She was very up and down and felt she was very open with me and we had a good relationship. However a few weeks ago after stockpiling medication took an overdose, telling me later she hardly remembered taking them. She woke feeling dizzy and told her sister who called 999 and thankfully her life was saved. I was very shocked but so relieved when she came to see me, still low but happy to be still here.
My ASIST training (2014) with Terry and Caron from Forward For Life and Common Unity helped me to say the right things, to agree a safe plan to which she agreed and to signpost more help. She came to me as a friend and mentor and I thank god I had the ASIST training to help her. She is now having much more help and bipolar disorder is suspected
“I found the ASIST (2013) training really useful and it has made me for less worried about talking to someone wanting or thinking about ending their life. I have used the training in a telephone call in a previous job with someone who was suicidal and had the means and a plan of how they were going to end their life. Because of the training i didn’t panic but listened to the person for quite some time before identifying some things that he wanted to live for. I talked to them about these and arranged for them to see their GP. I got them to agree to see their GP and ensured that they were seeing a friend that evening, I also arranged to call them the following day to check in and see how they were. When i spoke to them the following day they were so grateful and said that if it hadn’t been for me listening to them and caring about what happened to them, they would have killed themselves the previous day.
I’ve also used the training in my role as a counsellor – I’ve used it on a couple of occasions with clients who had been having suicidal ideation although they weren’t actively planning to kill themselves. On both occasions the clients found it helpful to be able to talk through their feelings with someone who just wanted to listen.”
“I have had to put into practise ASIST on 2 occasions since completing our training in April 2014, and all I can say is that I felt prepared for both situations. Both situations were totally different, as one was for a member of staff and the latest situation was a Yr 11 student on the last week of term.
The member of staff was directed to me for support/off load, and with the guidance from our training I was able to ask the right questions which lead to a safe plan and contacting the member of staff’s partner, and making an appointment at their Dr’s.
With regards to the yr. 11 student, with whom I had worked in the past due to self harming. I could see a difference in attitude than previously, which gave me the push to ask if they were thinking of suicide and what appeared to be relief when I asked the question she told me “yes” and told me how she wanted to end her life. Again I don’t think I would have been so direct with my questioning if I had not attended ASIST. I have now in place, support whilst she is at school completing exams. Parents are on board too, contact numbers have been given to the student and parents and CAMHS aware and updated.
On the day of her telling me that she wished to end her life, we managed from not wanting to tell anyone, to agreeing a safe plan for the next 24hrs until we got everyone on board.”
“If I had not had the ASIST training (2014) with Forward For Life and Common Unity I would not have had the confidence to give support to two people.
As a result of the training I was able to sit for an hour and a half with a man who had tried to commit suicide to work through some of the processes he had undergone. When I arrived he was not able to sit up and was in coherent and in tears. By the end of the meeting he was able to sit up and talk rationally with me about the events leading up to the attempt.
In another case the training gave me the ability to talk with a lady who admitted to me that she had contemplated suicide having been sexually harassed. The training gave me the confidence to support her. I have been able to assist her to see that her feelings of worthlessness and guilt coming out of the harassment were understandable and that what had happened was not her fault and she should not listen to her negative thought about concentrate on the positive ones.”
Company Director (Health and Well Being)
“Representatives from our organisation undertook the ASIST training (2013) for our management and support workers and we have been able to put the training to use straight away and have supported young people.
One Saturday morning after an incident on the previous night, myself and a colleague were able to help this young person in crisis who confirmed to us that they had felt suicidal for a long time but no one had noticed before. Without the training received, suicide would have continued to be a subject that we as a team felt was taboo – but now have the confidence to ask questions and give support.”
“Fortunately, I have not had to use the skills and approaches learnt during the 2 day ASIST course (2013) with Forward For Life and Common Unity. However, attending the ASIST course has benefited me in other ways, such as helping people who are feeling low, going through bereavement, depressed, and generally feeling down.
I highly recommend this both serious, and yet enjoyable course, as it helps in understanding a person’s deep-rooted misery, teaches essential techniques to stop a horrific tragedy, and enables wider awareness to further support, at risk and vulnerable individuals. Delivered in an engaging and interactive way, the ASIST course clearly meets it aims.”
Company Director – Training Consultancy
“I found the ASIST training engaging, the facilitators from Forward For Life and Common Unity were skilled in approaching such an emotive and sensitive subject with essence of humour and reality. I’ve become a supporter of their work and endorse their invaluable training.”
For further information on the ASIST training we provide go to > www.forwardforlife.org/our-training/the-asist-approach/
If you want to learn the skills that can someone’s life who is thinking about suicide. Then please get in touch with us.
At Forward For Life, we are working hard to promote a suicide prevention campaign entitled #reasonsforliving – it’s a social media campaign that looks to support people in crisis to realise that there is hope and there are always reasons for living as well as giving communities the opportunity to talk about what is good in life for them, both individually and as part of a wider community.
Over 6000 people die by suicide in the UK every year- that’s more than die in road accidents – so we want to get 6000 #reasonsforliving posted to succeed in this campaign as a way of highlighting that whatever challenges are thrown at us, life is worth living. We want to get this done between now (Mental Health Awareness Week) and September 10th – World Suicide Prevention Day – so time is of the essence.
It’s all really simple to do and we hope its both engaging and has the potential to be effective in its aim – if you can hashtag then you can join in – you can just post up a photo, a few words, a song choice maybe or a song that you have put up on youtube, a poem even, something about your faith, your hobbies, your inspirations…whatever you lovely people fancy really…just ensure you give it the hashtag #reasonsforliving.
So why are we doing this? Why are we talking about life and living when the issue at hand is suicide?
Forward For Life think it is fantastic that there are so many national and international campaigns each week being pushed out and promoted across a range of different media platforms to prevent suicide. But at the same time, we feel that in many cases, the approaches adopted overly emphasise the act of suicide and its devastating impact and place relatively little emphasis on life and living life to the full as a preventative approach to suicidal behaviour in its own right – and frankly, we think that too much emphasis on the act and not enough on prevention of the act (be it overt or as a result of positive community action) may risk the possibility of pushing people further away from engaging with the subject than ever before. We feel there needs to be a balance – and at the moment, the pint of life is definitely half-empty on this issue.
Suicide devastates communities, we know this and it’s a terrible plague that appears to be endemic of todays’ fast paced, often self-absorbed and stress inducing society with each suicide affecting at least one in eight of us every year in the UK – But we also feel that many of the current approaches may be missing a trick – for us the most effective way forward has to be a two-pronged approach – not only an approach that directly challenges the stigma and taboo of suicide that exists across our society as a whole and recognises the devastating effects of suicide on communities, but at the same time, an approach that further instills and builds on the level of resilience and sense of hope that communities can foster inwardly and outwardly – Historically communities have been powerful agents for maintaining the way things have always been, BUT let’s not forget they can also play a vital catalyst role in pushing forth change across society as a whole.
So ending on a positive note – Please help us make this pint half full – share, highlight, like, forward, hashtag, screenshot….whatever you do… give us a helping hand, a “top-up” (if you prefer) with this campaign.
Terry rigby – Company Director at Forward For Life Limited.
16% of the GPs felt that suicide could have been prevented
Many may have missed it, but in March 2014, the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness (NCISH) produced what for many in the suicide prevention arena was a breath of fresh air – A publication that outlines clearly the challenges faced by Primary Care and all our communities in identifying and supporting people who may be considering suicide as a realistic option.
To date, Suicide and its prevention has very much been seen as the remit of mental health services with an emphasis on those services being all they can be so to best prevent suicide.
This report however clearly demonstrates that the responsibility of suicide prevention is not solely in the hands of mental health services, and nor should it be. It is everybody’s responsibility – a joined up responsibility across all sectors and all our communities.
We need to remember that suicide is not a mental illness, nor infact, are all suicides undertaken by people who are in touch with mental health services or have ever had a diagnosed mental illness – some would even go as far as to argue that for some who die by suicide, the act could be seen as a rational undertaking with no relevance to mental illness at all.
The only real “known known” is that one suicide is one too many and in today’s society, nobody should find themselves at such a level of despair that the only option they feel they have is to die by suicide.
Many of the GPs who contributed to this report felt that there was a lack of access to mental health services and that there were underlying challenges because of the problems encountered by working within changing NHS structures. In addition to this, 16% of the GPs who contributed to this report felt that suicide could have been prevented.
But, suicide is everybody’s responsibility – it can’t, and shouldn’t all be laid solely on the shoulders of the GPs and mental health services – it is an unrealistic ask – we all need to do our share – from Public Health to the Police, from the Voluntary Sector to the Education sector, from our local politicians to our very own families and friends.
If you want to know what we are doing at Forward For Life then get in touch with us.
If you are worried about someone or have thoughts of suicide yourself then seek support now. Go to our Resources section for more information.
Looking Back on our First Year
Let’s make no bones about this, setting up and running a social enterprise which has at it very core the goal of supporting communities to become Suicide Safer and ensuring that suicide prevention is Everybody’s Business, is no straight forward task. But by viewing every challenge as an opportunity and realising that there is no substitute for hard work and sheer determination, Forward For Life is now being recognised as an organisation that delivers at a high level and is true to its goal.
To look to meet our goal we need to take a number of different approaches. There is no one size fits all. At Forward For Life we realise that death by suicide is associated with many factors; too many factors to make suicide an easy phenomenon to deal with. What we also know is that through adopting a range of approaches that look to reduce inequalities such as the promotion of wellbeing. community engagement and involvement, the redesign of services, the development of holistic and person centered services and the provision of high quality learning opportunities, we can have an impact.
Some of our highlights
January 2013 – The ASIST Briefing Paper was produced and disseminated widely and provides a good understanding as to the issues surrounding suicide and how the ASIST course can make a real difference.
May 2013 – Forward For Life in partnership with Common Unity deliver their first Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Course in Birmingham. ASIST is a two day, skills building workshop that prepares caregivers of all kinds to provide suicide first aid interventions. Professionals, Volunteers and informal helpers all need to know how to help persons with thoughts of suicide in ways that increase their suicide safety.
June 2013 – London to Brighton Cycle Ride – Fundraising for the British Heart Foundation – Thanks to all who donated – at the end of all donations being collected over £1000 was raised by Forward For Life.
September 2013 – Launch of the Suicide Prevention Campaign and SOS Website involving over 30 West Midlands based voluntary sector, public sector and private sector organisations with continued organisational representation in the development of a local Suicide Prevention Strategy for Birmingham continuing still.
September 2013 – Launch of the SOS Government E-Petition challenging the notion of local suicide prevention strategies being optional.
October 2013 – The Biggest Elephant Briefing Paper that provides an overview of the partnership work between Forward For Life and Common Unity to prevent suicide by supporting communities to be Suicide Safer.
November 2013 – safeTALK course introduced to Birmingham with the first two dates being fully booked – safeTALk ensures maximum dissemination at an affordable cost.
safeTALK is a half-day course that offers you practical steps to help someone with thoughts of suicide and helps you both to connect with more specialised support. safeTALK complements our more comprehensive 2 day ASIST course by widening the net of suicide alert helpers to ensure that thoughts of suicide aren’t missed, dismissed or avoided.
I would just like to thank everyone who supported Forward For Life and what we are looking to do…you know who you are.
Looking forward to the second year!
Terry Rigby – Company Director
Human beings throughout history have taken their own lives, or more simply put, have died from suicide. It is a phenomenon that persists to this day in all societies and within those societies there continues to be strongly held opinions that are deeply rooted regarding suicide. However, these opinions nor the impact of these opinions are debated openly across and within communities – they are just understood “to be” – and because of this unspoken attitude that engulfs this phenomenon, the taboo of suicide in society has become so powerful that the silence that surrounds it at all levels only further serves to strengthen that taboo and cement the stigma associated with suicide.
This stigma serves no purpose to anyone, least of all a person who may be thinking of taking their own life and is unable to tell anybody due to their own inner feelings of guilt as well as their concerns as to how such an admittance would be reacted to by others. So suicide remains the “elephant in the room” that everybody ignores though it is blatantly there.
Forward For Life understands that most of us have strong, often deep-seated feelings and opinions about suicide, after all we are only human and suicide for many is an area that challenges the very concept of human “being” – some think people have a right to die, others, that life should be valued and suicide is wrong, others see it as a selfish act, a cowardly act, others as a brave thing to do – but there is one opinion we believe everyone shares and that is one that states that if there are steps we can take to reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts in society, then we should look to adopt these steps and start building Suicide Safer communities for a brighter tomorrow.
So a number of approaches have been brought together by Forward For Life with Common Unity under the name of SOS and we feel that through community action, learning, campaigning, social media, lobbying and influence we will all eventually not only see the elephant and openly admit to seeing it, but also all know how to get it out of the room!
One Suicide. One Too Many. Time To Act.
Forward For Life Company Director and Founder
SOS Campaign Co-Founder
Calling all Voluntary and Community Organisations in Birmingham – An opportunity to be part of future service provision in Birmingham –
At Forward For Life we do appreciate that it is tough out there – little funding, little opportunity for innovation and very few doors to be welcomed through when it comes to service delivery opportunities.
But it is what it is and we have to make best of the opportunities that are offered…and what we do know is that there is wisdom to be found crowds and opportunities to be discovered through innovative collaboration.
The Platform Project BSC is part of a lotteries funded programme in partnership with Common Unity Social Enterprise, Forward For Life and Digbeth Trust that seeks to gain a greater understanding of how the new Health and Social Care commissioning landscape is viewed by Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCO). The programme also aims to look at ways of influencing networks and partnership across the Health and Social Care spectrum for the future.
If you work in a VCO, please complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CUnity_Platform
All organisations that submit a survey response will have the opportunity to attend a valuable follow up workshop on the morning of July 19th. But you must submit the survey by close of play on Tuesday 16th July!
By engaging with this survey you are starting an engagement with future service provision!
In 2008, a clever bunch of folk in the big smoke called the New Economics Foundation worked out what’s good for our well-being – they called it 5 Ways to Well-Being.
Those in the health sector were told to implement the 5 ways to well-being across the UK…unfortunately, no one ever said this is how you do it. But luckily for us another bunch of clever folk in Birmingham have found one way to do it that’s not just another leaflet. Welcome to Birminghams’ 5 Ways To Well Being App hosted by one of Forward For Lifes’ well respected partners Common Unity.
The 5 ways app gives a basic list of activity you can do to aid in your health and wellbeing, from reading a book, going for a walk or saying hello to a friend, the app has a design as a base point for individual to start incorporating his own goals towards the five ways to wellbeing.
So give the link a click and enjoy