1 in 200 people in Scotland now have the skills to recognise the warning signs of suicidal thoughts and the confidence to offer assistance.
At the start of Suicide Prevention Week (6–12 September), Scotland’s suicide prevention programme Choose Life can reveal that almost 25,000 people from the voluntary, social work and education sectors, mental health agencies and the NHS have been trained to be alert to early signs and understand appropriate ways to help those with suicidal thoughts since training began in 2004. A network of over 500 suicide prevention trainers is in place to deliver training in communities across Scotland.
Keith Walker, Choose Life Highland Coordinator, says: “Training is a very important part of our work to promote suicide awareness and reduce the number of suicides in Highland.”
Choose Life in Highland offers a choice of training courses, ranging from short exploration and awareness-raising sessions to two-day practical workshops. This includes safeTALK, which enables a participant to recognise when someone may be feeling suicidal and to connect that person to someone who can help further, and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), a ‘suicide first aid’ course which enables a participant to directly intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Since the roll out of training in 2004, over 600 people have been trained in ASIST and safeTALK courses.
A key message recipients take from the training is that most people who are feeling suicidal will try to let someone know, either verbally or indirectly, and are looking for help to stay alive.
It’s a common misconception that by asking someone if they are feeling suicidal this will increase the risk. Openly listening to and discussing someone’s thoughts of suicide can be a source of relief for a suicidal person and is key to preventing immediate danger. safeTALK and ASIST are intended for all members of the community, and Choose Life Highland also recognises that everyone has a role to play in developing a society where it’s OK to talk about feeling suicidal.
Mr Walker added: “It’s important not to underestimate the things we can all do to help. Families, friends, workplaces and the media can all hep reduce the risk of suicide in Highland by talking about suicide responsibly, so that people at risk feel comfortable about asking for, and responding to, the help they need.”
Since the launch of the Choose Life in 2002 Scotland’s suicide rate has decreased by 11%.
If you are feeling suicidal or suspect that someone you know is considering suicide, contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours) or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 (Mon-Thurs (6pm-2am; weekends Fri 6pm-Mon 6am).
Notes to Editors:
- Choose Life is a 10-year strategy and action plan aimed at reducing suicide in Scotland by 20% by 2013. Launched in 2002, it is funded by the Scottish Government and has been supported and delivered by NHS Health Scotland since April 2008.
- It sets out a framework to ensure action is taken nationally and locally to build skills, reduce stigma around suicide, encourage people to seek help, improve understanding of ‘what works’ to prevent suicide, promote responsible media reporting of suicide and provide support to those affected by suicide.
- All 32 local authorities in Scotland have a tailored suicide prevention action plan and many have a local Co-ordinator to oversee its implementation.
- safeTALK and ASIST are intended for all members of the community. To find out about local training courses visit www.chooselife.net/training or contact email@example.com
- For information on what do if you are worried someone is feeling suicidal, and to download ‘The Art of Conversation’, a free guide on talking, listening and reducing stigma around suicide, visit www.suicide-prevention.org.uk