On World Suicide Prevention Day Herts residents share their stories

Support is available in Hertfordshire as highlighted by World Suicide Prevention Day. Picture: Getty

Support is available in Hertfordshire as highlighted by World Suicide Prevention Day. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hertfordshire’s Suicide Prevention Network has been working with a range of people to share their lived experiences of suicide, in a bid to raise awareness this World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10).

Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge, which can often has a devastating effect on families, friends, colleagues, first responders, staff, the wider community and beyond, and has been estimated to affect around 135 people.

Helen, who lost her partner to suicide when she was pregnant, was thankful for the support that she got but said more home-based care would have been more helpful as seeking help can “often be too much to do”.

The Herts mum explained that people’s reactions were often not helpful, by saying: “The way they asked questions about my partners death or the way they just spoke about suicide in general was really hard to swallow.”

But she said this experience has allowed to help her others by hosting public talks and setting up a Facebook group called ‘We can do this’.

Affirmation Art at St Albans Station on World Suicide Prevention Day. Picture: Peter Alvey

Affirmation Art at St Albans Station on World Suicide Prevention Day. Picture: Peter Alvey - Credit: Archant

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“You can choose the path to help other people and that’s they way I’ve gone in my life.

“There are so many people who want to help you and to lose someone to suicide is horrific.”

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She added that people are not alone and there is always someone out there to help you.

Hertfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for public health and prevention, Cllr Tim Hutchings, said: “World Suicide Prevention Day provides the opportunity for us to raise awareness on the importance of suicide prevention. This year our Suicide Prevention Network has worked with a range of inspirational people to share their experiences of suicide.

“By working together, we can raise awareness and reach our vision that no one in Hertfordshire should feel like suicide is their only option.”

Herts detective inspector Jo Briggs said: “Our Mental Health and Policing Team are part of the Hertfordshire Suicide Prevention Network. We continue to work hard to give the best possible service to people in mental health crisis because no suicide is inevitable. These stories are extremely moving and we hope they give people the confidence to reach out for help.”

Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) chief executive Tom Cahill added: “Each and every death by suicide is devastating for the person and their loved ones. On World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 and every day, HPFT will continue working together with others, so that we keep learning and understanding more about how we can help prevent these tragic and unnecessary deaths.”

During the day, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which operates Thameslink and Great Northern, unveiled ‘Affirmation Art’ clusters across some of its busiest stations to raise awareness of the company’s ongoing support and understanding to those who may be feeling vulnerable.

In the last year, there have been 426 GTR interventions and 35 fatalities, with a 57 per cent increase in lifesaving interventions since 2019 across GTR’s rail network.

GTR suicide prevention manager, Laura Campbell said, “My grandmother sadly took her own life on the railway when my mum was just four years old. Back then, there wasn’t the support around that there is now and I don’t think she’s ever processed it properly.

“It’s one of the key reasons why I took on this role – my main focus is on supporting as many people as possible with all the work we’re doing to prevent suicide. I think it’s incredibly important that we’re raising awareness and showing signs of positivity on what will be quite a stark day for many.”

Herts residents experiencing a mental health crisis are also able to access a mental health professional directly by calling the NHS 111 service. Selecting Option 2 for mental health services will automatically direct Herts callers to the 24/7 HPFT helpline team.

Download the Stay Alive App - a pocket-sized suicide prevention resource full of national and local information to keep you safe - at: bit.ly/StayAliveHerts

Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (HFPT) has also launched a new free helpline: 0800 6444 101 for people in Hertfordshire who are experiencing a mental health crisis, looking for mental health help or just need to talk. Support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Whatever you’re going through, you can call Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is free to call and will not appear on your phone bill), or you can email jo@samaritans.org.

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