I’ve recently been on a half-day training course which was offered free by MIND (as Durham Council funded it for everyone working in their area). I thought that the training was really interesting as it was built around a mixture of a film presentation and clips from Canada and a local presenter. If you see the course advertised anywhere else for free, I would take up the offer because it gives you some space to think about the issue of suicide.
If you don’t see it anywhere they did mention that there is a free App for the I-phone (Safetalk from Living Works). All this app stuff is still beyond me so I’ll have to take their word for it.
The gist of the training is that if you detect any signs that suicide may be being considered you should talk to the person concerned about the signs that you have seen (or why you are feeling uneasy about them) and then ask them a very direct question like “are you thinking about suicide / taking your life.” The trainers emphasised the importance of listening to your gut feelings / intuition on assessing situations rather than relying just on what you see or hear. The next steps are to listen to what the person needs to say and to then summons extra help if necessary from an appropriate source. You are recommended to keep your own list of emergency numbers for each region……ours included GPs, Samaritans, Mental health Helplines, Crisis teams, MIND, Police etc etc.
If the police need to be summoned because someone is at immediate risk, you should say that you need an “urgent welfare check” on an individual. I asked why police and not a medical person and they said that if someone has not actually injured themselves, it is sometimes difficult to get an ambulance to come (but you could try a GP), whereas it is the role of the police to “preserve life”.
The reason that I am telling you all this (apart from the fact that it is really important) is that we had to promise to spread the word. I’ve also got a sticker for my briefcase which says “Suicide…you can talk to me!”