10th September. And then?

What are you doing  for World Suicide Prevention Day – Are you going to wear purple, wear a yellow ribbon, light a candle in a window,  cycle, walk?

If you are doing any of these things then that’s great.

But what about the day after? The 11th September, what will you do then?

Will you stop and just get on with your day to day life until next World Suicide Prevention Day comes along or are you willing to carry on – to take the next steps in continuing to make a real difference?

Are you going to get clued up about what to do if someone close to you appears to be in turmoil, appears to be crying out for help, appears to be in a place where you need to ask the question “are you thinking of ending your life?” and then actually ask the question.

…and if they say “yes”

…are you willing to listen, non-judgmentally, as to why they may want to die?

Are you going to help them realise alternatives?…and if so, do you know what services, what options, what possibilities there might be to help this person live if they so choose?

For me, Suicide Prevention is not all about being aware of services, but it is all about being aware of what you can do to make a difference. Being aware of what you are capable of.

Suicide prevention is not the sole responsibility of mental health services. It is not the sole responsibility of suicide prevention organisations…and nor should it be… It is everybody’s business…everybody’s responsibility.

So what are you going to do about it…not just on World Suicide Prevention Day, but also for the rest of the year?

Written by T Rigby. Director at Forward For Life

Is this a man’s world?

What’s all the fuss about?

Written by T. Rigby, Director of Forward For Life. November 2016

November 19th 2016 celebrated another International Men’s Day. Inaugurated in 1999, this day is celebrated in over 80 countries including the UK. But you might be thinking…”What’s the fuss all about?” After all this is a man’s world, ruled by men for the benefit of men. But is this the story for ALL men?

November 17th 2016 witnessed a House of Commons Parliamentary Debate in advance of International Men’s Day. But it was much less about celebrating men and much more about asking hard questions as to why men were finding it so hard to survive…and there’s good reasons to ask these questions – because in this so called patriarchal society, the benefits of being a man in today’s world are not so easily straight forward to highlight.

To be frank, there is a need for a proper fuss when it comes down to men in modern day UK and here’s why…..

The high male suicide rate

The suicide rate amongst men in the UK is over three times higher than women. This gap has increased since 1981, when the male rate was just less than double the female rate. Since 1981, the female rate has reduced by around 50%, while the male rate has decreased by 14%

When asked, what steps the Government plans to take to improve suicide prevention policies in response to the statistics, this was their response…

The Government has invested over £1.5 million on suicide and self-harm prevention research since the National Suicide Prevention Strategy to inform and target our strategy for reducing suicide rates.

The human cost

But this is surely a drop in the ocean compared to the magnitude of the challenge at hand. Over 4,500 men take their lives each year in the UK. Each suicide attempt has an immeasurable emotional cost on family, friends and the wider community.

The economic cost

But let’s be brutal from a “typical man’s” view, let’s look at the pounds, shillings and pence – the economic cost. The estimated cost for each death by suicide is £1.6 million pounds – it therefore beyond belief as to why an investment of £1.5 million in research over a 3 year period is somehow proportionate to the magnitude of the issue at hand.

Lets do what need’s to be done.

The other question we must ask is whether this amount of investment in research is money well spent. I’m not saying that research isn’t important, but what I am saying is that at some juncture we need to draw a line in the sand. Maybe, stop asking so much “what else can we know?” and start asking “what do we need to do based on what we know now?”

The answers, I believe, were staring the parliamentarians in the face today as the rest of the debate regarding men and their situation gave clear statements as to what specific wider issues in society need to be addressed if we are to tackle suicide amongst men.

The areas discussed, that made grim reading, covered the following:

  • The challenges faced by boys and men at all stages of education including attainment
  • Men’s health, shorter life expectancy and workplace deaths
  • The challenges faced by the most marginalised men and boys in society (for instance, homeless men, boys in care and the high rate of male deaths in custody)
  • Male victims of violence, including sexual violence
  • The challenges faced by men as parents, particularly new fathers and separated fathers
  • Male victims and survivors of sexual abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, forced marriage, honour-based crime, stalking and slavery
  • The negative portrayal of men, boys and fathers

The size of the challenge

Now, it is true that men aren’t as likely as women to engage with universal services regarding their health and it is true that many men don’t seek support from their peers. In addition, many don’t talk openly about their problems and it is true that many men see strength in silence whereas the real strength would be to ask for help. However, this does not mean that we should lay the blame at the feet of men – not all men anyway.

The challenge is bigger than most of us would like to admit. Individual blame is too short-sighted; we need to look at ourselves and our taken for granted assumptions as to who men are. To me, it appears that the silent majority has been overlooked and no one is responsible for dealing with this oversight.

My question

If this is a man’s world, then why are so many men taking their own lives?

To get your copy of the full parliamentary report and debate pack from from 2016 then click on the image below.

 

After all, he’s just a man…

We are steadfast, we are unflinching, we are men…and we are dying

In control

It has been said that we live in a patriarchal society. We see ourselves as the masters of our own destiny.  We often unfairly, have better paid jobs and greater representation in both the business and political power houses that governs the UK in comparison to women. We are expected, on the whole, to be quicker in pace and stronger in arm. We are the providers, the protectors, the fixers, the guides, the shoulders to cry on – we are men, real men – but who are we kidding? Probably just ourselves.

Shifting sands

Because there’s a huge problem; it’s all a smokescreen, a sweeping stereotype, or at very best, a part truth. Because many of us are not coping very well at all. We are, after all, just men and our world has changed yet many of us haven’t moved with it. But why would we? Why should we? We know who we are.

We are steadfast. We are unflinching. We are men.

It’s a fact that we are all, to a large degree, the result of the way we were brought up and many of us, as men, are the result of a family upbringing that imbued the traditional concept of manliness and all the ‘strengths’ it espoused. Yet the world around us today finds increasingly little virtue in the traditional roles we have been taught to exhibit from the earliest days of our lives.

Square pegs, round holes

So into the world we have gone with our cemented identity and we are proud to be real men, and for a while, for many of us, all has been good. But as time has gone by and as employment avenues into traditional male job roles have become more and more scarce whilst opportunities for all across the board have become common place the gulf between the traditional man and the requirements of a rapidly evolving modern society have continued to widen. This is a reason why many men have fallen head-long through the gap.

Traditionally,

  • We identify ourselves by our work status but we no longer have work status.
  • We build our friendships through our job but we have no job.
  • We demonstrate our strength through our silence but then we are never heard and we dare not speak up as this would show our weaknesses.
  • We have lost our purpose or feel that we have somehow been duped.

So many of us cower in dark corners feeling that to step out would only be a step into an alien wilderness in which we cannot survive – a place where hopelessness reigns because we don’t feel able to turn to others because we are real men and real men don’t ask for help.

So how do we survive? Often badly.

We wear masks amongst our peers which serves to uphold and further reinforce the stereotype of being the real man we need people to believe we are. Or we adopt lifestyles that allow us to fleetingly dull the inner pain; we take to the bottle or the chemical and often both. But we are acutely aware that beneath this facade that threatens to crack at any moment our voices are silently screaming out to be heard, listened to, acted upon. But the silence of the real man ensures nothing is heard and the real man facade remains in check – maintained all the way through to the point that for some of us – we would rather die than admit “I need help.”

And when we take our own lives, it’s not selfish to us – we do this because we believe we are of no value. We believe we don’t belong. We honestly believe you would be better off without us. We believe that for everybody, including ourselves, we would be better off dead.

Change has got to come

So there needs to be a change, a major shift in understanding across society because being ‘real men’ in the traditional sense is killing us.

But, more importantly, the shift needs to start with us, as men. The first step for us is to recognise that –

There is no strength in silence. A real man reaches out.


Written by T Rigby; Director at Forward For Life (2015)

For more information on the work we do at Forward For Life >>> Get In Touch

Suicide Prevention Training Raises Money For Local Charity

Author: T Rigby, Forward For Life. Published 2015

Suicides devastate communities and supporting those bereaved by suicide is a mammoth task in its own right. 

With over 6000 people each year taking their own lives across communities in the UK, the impact on families, friends and wider communities is unfathomable because its a fact that for each and every suicide that occurs, at least 16 other people are directly effected by the loss. Because of the nature of suicide and the difficulty for those bereaved by suicide to  cope, organisations such as Cruse Bereavement Care Birmingham provide an invaluable level of support both individually and at a group level.

It is because of their unrelenting hard work and dedication to supporting people bereaved by suicide that all the delegate costs received for this ASIST course delivered on the 14th and 15th October was donated to Cruse Bereavement Birmingham.

If you have been recently bereaved by suicide, or know of someone who has please send them a link to the HELP IS AT HAND document. It is completely free guide that helps those bereaved by suicide understand what they are going through both emotionally and practically.


 

BBC Dan Kelly Talks about suicide in the West Midlands

BBC West Midlands 95.6 presenter Dan Kelly talked about suicide within local communities and ways of preventing them with the help of Common Unity and Forward For Life.

Master Trainers Caron Thompson and Terry Rigby, discussed the benefits of training members of the public as well as professionals to look for the signs within their communities that could help tackle suicide at the source and support communities to be suicide safer.

Offering a listening ear whilst supporting that individual to engage with sources of support is crucial to preventing suicide.

bbc

Media attention to suicide prevention came on the back of the story of Jamie Harrington, a Young Ambassador for Dublin becoming the next European Capital of Culture in 2020, who helped a man find reasons for living on a bridge in his home town. This story went viral with Jamie being repaid in a very special way. The man who had kept in contact with Jamie since their encounter on the bridge told him the news that his girlfriend was having a child, and they were going to name the child after him.

Originally published 2015. Author T. Rigby

#reasonsforliving

@DannyKellyRadio
@common_unity_
@forwardforlife
@bbcbreakfast
@jamieh_official

Are You O.K?

Originally published 2015 by Forward For Life

Chance encounter

Jamie Harrington, who featured on the photography project ‘Humans of Dublin’. He spoke of a chance encounter which led to him saving the life of a man in distress on a Dublin bridge.

Upon seeing the man, who was clearly distressed, Jamie simply asked him “Are You O.K?” These these three little words were the start of an encounter that saved a mans’ life.

Jamie and Terry

Photo: Jamie Harrington and Terry Rigby from Forward For Life at BBC Breakfast, August 7th 2015

Positive outcomes

The story went viral on social media. Jamie, a ‘Young Ambassador’ campaigning for Dublin to become the next European Capital of Culture in 2020, was repaid in a very special way. The man who had kept in contact with Jamie since their encounter on the bridge told him the news; that his girlfriend was having a child, and they were going to name the child after him.

Our small input

Terry Rigby, Founder and Company Director of Forward For Life Social Enterprise has worked in the field of mental health and suicide prevention since 1999.

Both Jamie (16 years old) and Terry (45 years young) visited BBC Breakfast on 7th August 2015 to talk about Jamies’ incredible story, suicide prevention and how to best support people whose lives were potentially at risk from suicide.

For information on help-lines and support go to our signposting page

Contact us

If you want more information about what we do at Forward For Life then email us at info@forwardforlife.org or call us on 07585776800.


BBC Presenters: Naga Munchetty & Christian Fraser

Just Whose Responsibility is Suicide Prevention?

Originally published 2015 by Forward For Life

“It is only through dialogue that we can face this issue of suicide intention head on in the hope that suicide prevention will one day be seen as everyone’s business.”

The impact of suicide

Suicide: Talking about it, challenging the stigma surrounding it and discussing what can be done about it is often seen by many as a bridge too far to cross.

Suicide devastates families, communities and even whole populations. But without talking about it, we can’t reduce the stigma. Without reducing the stigma we won’t reduce the numbers. It is only through dialogue that we can face this issue head on in the hope that suicide prevention will one day be seen as everyone’s business.

In 2013, a woman named Angela Rich took her own life whilst under the care of a Mental Health Trust. Her daughter, is a GP. She has tirelessly campaigned for better procedures within the NHS to prevent such tragedies occurring in the future.

Opportunities for change


Forward For Life were approached late July 2015 by Capital and Smooth Radio. We were asked to suggest what steps Mental Health services within the NHS could put in place to prevent suicides occurring in the future.

To Forward For Life, it is a reasonable to ask what can be improved in the NHS. But maybe as big a question to be asked is “Whose responsibility is suicide prevention?” 

The interview

Excerpts from this interview were broadcast on the 4th August 2015. Above you will be able to watch the podcast of the whole interview.


Get in touch


If you want to know more about the work we do to prevent suicide through supporting communities please email us info@forwardforlife.org or call us on 07585776800

BBC WM 95.6 Topic of Suicide

Common Unity & Forward For Life speak live on BBC WM 95.6 on the topic of suicide and suicide prevention.

caron-and-t-white-bg

Common Unity, Forward For Life and Time to Change were invited to speak at BBC West Midlands Radio 95.6 on ChatBack on the subject of suicide and more importantly, suicide prevention.

Why not have a listen to the recording below.

The Very Public Affair of Suicide

Suicide is not a selfish act

RW

 

 

On the evening of the 11th August 2014, the world was shocked and stunned by the tragic news that Robin Williams had died. The initial suspicion of this being death by suicide was confirmed only the day after.

 

The world mourned and still does – Social Media across the world went into melt-down with images, condolences and outpourings of grief dominating our screens. The loss was further amplified through extensive radio broadcasts, television news bulletins and dedicated programmes with the rich and the famous lining up to give their testimonials of personal grief and personal stories; Even a hastily re-worked shelf stacking flurry of activity in a local video/audio store was undertaken (and I’m sure replicated elsewhere) where the whole back catalogue of Robins’ work was displayed in all its glory for potential customers to take note and hopefully purchase in the name of nostalgia. I was inundated with phone calls, text messages, twitter feeds, emails and face to face statements all sharing a common grief, a common sadness, a feeling of despair and absolute disbelief at what had occurred…the abbreviation of “O.M.G” has been abused to the point that it would need respite and plenty of “T.L.C” before it could be placed tentatively in the public domain once again though with a blatant public warning as to its current level of fragility since the loss of Robin.

 

 

But it can’t stop there. We have to categorise, we have to have a reason, a box to place this particular challenging instance within so we can comfortably give it meaning….give it a rationale. Indeed, for a person who appeared to have so much going for him – an “A List” Celebrity attributed such high regard across the world that his name was deemed synonymous with comedy across generations – the public thirst to know why and how such a tragedy could occur had to be realised and advertised widely. We needed to understand what could possibly lead such an iconic figure to consider and undertake death by suicide. Severe depression was given as the reason and this has all been a very public affair.

 

 

The painful toll that depression leaves in its wake after its persistent drag across society cannot be under-estimated. It destroys lives on so many different levels and is rife across the globe knowing no boundaries and respecting no particular group. But, just as rampant is the toll of suicide itself. Suicide, similarly, knows no boundaries and impacts across the world. Mental health, or more precisely, mental illness, has a huge part to play in the story of suicide but it is not all of the story. Many people who take their own lives are not known to mental health services, have received no such diagnosis. Now in part this could be a failing of society and the stigma that is attributed to mental health problems but it does not account for all suicides.

 

 

Suicide takes over a million lives per year globally. In the UK, that equates to 6000 suicides each year with 75% being by men – that’s 12 men and 4 women everyday in the UK. For suicidal behaviours – being a suicidal act that does not end in the death of the individual, it is estimated conservatively as being at least 100 times the number of suicides completed each year. This is what Forward For Life call The Biggest Elephant in the Room. Something that we can all see, and effects us all, yet we don’t talk about nor acknowledge it. But it appears that there is a caveat here; one where if a person who suicides is cherished by many, the world will listen, take note and grieve.

 

 

At Forward For Life it is our core goal to prevent suicide. An important aspect of that is challenging the stigma that perpetuates societies regarding suicide – a stigma that in effect is a catalyst for future suicides with an ever pervading undertone of damnation and shame being brought down on individuals, families and communities that experience suicide in their midst.

 

 

Media, in all its presentations in the past, both virtual and real, have played an ongoing role in maintaining this stigma – words like selfish, uncaring, thoughtless, pathetic, weak, useless, evil, possessed have been mercilessly attributed to individuals that have attempted or who have completed suicide. The only time I saw the word Selfish used in the context of Robin Williams death was a Guardian report that stated, that Suicide is Not A Selfish Act.

 

 

So what is this about? Is it that suicide is not a selfish act when they are known and loved in the public domain? I think not. This would be a ludicrous hypothesis to condone and besides, there are still a minority out there who continue to stigmatise regardless of the status of the person who died by suicide.

 

 

At what point do we consider the possibility of allocating the same grief, sadness and understanding to others who have been lost to suicide? At what point do we start to give support to those bereaved by suicide? At what point do we all take notice of the Elephant In The Room and start to talk about it….start to look how this is not a question of blame or judgment, but an issue that requires care, support and empathy?

 

 

At what point do we consider suicide and the prevention of it to be a priority that is everyone’s business?

 

Terry Rigby

Forward For Life

13th August 2014

Finding Life in Adversity

The loss of a loved one through suicide is one of the greatest adversities a person can endure.

The emotional aftermath has no defined longevity nor clear point of closure. The ability to handle this adversity and use it for the benefit of others should never be underestimated. Such people are unique and should be treasured, recognised as champions for life and recognised for their tenacious ability to live life to the full in spite of the adversity life has thrown in their way.

 

Nearly 10 years back, I lost a friend and mentor to suicide. It was a terrible loss, but one which, ironically, I found I could manage through my role as a strategic lead for Suicide Prevention in the Health Sector; I had an outlet…a duty…a defined function…a framework that I could hang my corporate hat and make a difference with.

 

In 2012, the corporate hat found a new but very similar framework to rest upon when I was handed the opportunity to set up my own forward thinking company; to make happen at a grassroots level what I always hoped for historically from a strategic standpoint and I have never looked back since with the core belief that one suicide is one too many, and there are opportunities across our communities to support people to realise that there are reasons for living.

Many people have said to me that I was brave to jump ship and set up Forward For Life – but I really don’t see this. For me it was the next natural step towards making a difference in an area that I had by chance fell into some 15 years back, an area that effects huge swathes across our communities yet was, and still is deemed by many, as an act that is rare and of little significant consequence.    

So what is brave to me in the world of suicide and suicide prevention?

It’s quite simple really – I was lucky. I had a framework, I had a knowledge base, I had connections…I had a “fallback” position. But for most this isn’t the case. Over the years I have worked in this field, It has never ceased to amaze me just how many people have not only been touched by suicide at such a personal level, but how many of those individuals have gone on to utilise this adversity in their life to make a difference for others…to wave the flag of life and all the amazing things life can still hold for us…to be there for people in their darkest most despairing moment…and just be.  These are truly brave people – these are our champions for life and the value of it should never be taken for granted but acknowledged for all that it is worth.

 

So who are these people?

There are so many but just as a starter here are a few…..

Hectors House – Hector took his own life on 20th April 2011.

His friends and family work tirelessly to prevent suicide after their loss. http://www.hectorshouse.org.uk/1.html

Rob_Stringer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Stringer of Hectors House after completing his 10K run to raise money for the national suicide prevention charity CALM – 2014

 

Suicide Crisis – a voluntary organisation in Cheltenham set up by a woman touched by suicide and supported by volunteers that offers support to people in crisis – all on a voluntary basis  http://www.suicidecrisis.co.uk/

Suicide_Crisis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suicide Crisis Volunteers in Cheltenham receiving the SOS Award from Forward For Life and Common Unity (2014)

 

Cadi Lambert https://cadi2014.wordpress.com/ who rode the Coast To Coast cycle route (August 2014) in memory of her partner Bob.

Cadi_Lambert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cadi Lambert enjoying a break from the bike training!

 


Respect due

Terry Rigby

Company Director – Forward For Life