First Person: Trainees help thousands of at-risk people
Just over three years ago, I contributed an article in the Leicester Mercury to promote the launch of a lottery-funded project, Suicide Awareness Partnership Training, which our charity, RCC, was about to launch across five counties in the East Midlands.
The project has proved to be very timely as statistics on suicide released last week by the Office for National Statistics indicate that suicide in the UK is on the rise, from 5,608 in 2010 to 6,045 in 2011.
There are numerous reasons for this upturn, but the recession is one probable cause.
In Leicestershire, the suicide rate remains static at about 70 a year, which is in itself a chilling and tragic statistic.
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Our project has helped to raise awareness for people coming into contact with those who may be depressed and distressed and who, without help, may in extremis take their own lives.
Across Leicestershire and Rutland we have run 58 half-day seminars for more than 1,275 delegates from a range of professional and voluntary roles – police, debt collectors, Territorial Army, health and social workers, to name just a few.
The training has helped to dispel the myths and taboo surrounding suicide, allowed participants to share experiences and create better understanding about the early signs of distress and the sort of help that can be given to someone in need.
In tandem with these presentations we have provided shorter presentations in the work place to management and teachers specifically on the issue of self-harming behaviour.
One of our key measures in this training was to seek information from participants six months after attending the seminars about how useful they found the information and whether they have used it to help others.
Delegates' responses indicate that, on average, they have helped eight people in need, meaning potentially more than 10,000 vulnerable people locally may have been helped by our delegates over the past three years.
Although lottery funding has now ended, with the support of Leicester City public health and others, the project is set to continue.
If anyone would like to attend our free training on suicide awareness, please contact project manager Mike Wilbur 0116 268 9712 or e-mail:
Jeremy Prescott is the chief executive of the Rural Community Council a charity based in Leicester