World Suicide Prevention Day

For World Suicide Prevention Day we asked our Early Help Teams to explain how they are always there for people...

“Working with people who may be feeling suicidal is an all too common theme in our casework in Early help. Our Engagement Workers are experts in engaging with people and understanding the root causes of presenting problems. They are skilled in supporting with a wide range of issues which commonly cause distress to people and can, in some circumstances, be the root cause of suicidal behaviour.

Our staff work closely with colleagues in Oldham’s mental health services to ensure services are at the right level and to support clients to navigate the system. They help clients tackle the practical issues that may be contributing to their feelings of helplessness for example unemployment, relationship issues, debt and finance worries, housing issues, social isolation and loneliness, drawing on strong partnerships with other agencies to ensure a joined-up approach. Our engagement workers also support the families and loved ones of the person in crisis - ensuring they are involved in safety planning for example, so they can take action and not feel helpless whilst benefitting from emotional support themselves.

Since Spring 2019 we have been partners in the delivery of the Safe Haven at Royal Oldham Hospital along with TOGMIND and Pennine NHS trust. We have a team of six engagement workers who work shifts in the Safe Haven, supporting people who have presented at A&E as suicidal. Each person is offered an appointment and quite often these appointments lead to Early Help casework to address the issue causing the distress. Over two hundred men and women with ages ranging from late teens to mid-60s have been referred to us via the Safe Haven, over half of them have been escalated to Early Help.

Our teams are well supported with this work which can be time consuming and emotionally draining. We have resources to draw on to help us work with people who are suicidal, specific training has been taken up across the staff team, there is peer support and regular supervision, and excellent relationships with our colleagues in local mental health services. As one of our team says:

“Suicide is a permanent response to a temporary problem. Talking through the problem WILL help and lessen the pain you are experiencing, you can get through this.”