Special training to help people in Doncaster talk more about suicide could save lives

A community worker from Doncaster is hoping people will begin to talk more openly about suicide by encouraging them to attend special training sessions taking place in the city over the summer.

  Lynn Brookes Community Engagement Officer

After losing three people close to her to suicide in the last 15 years and attending the training recently herself, Lynn Brookes, community engagement officer at Edlington Community Organisation, has teamed up with Doncaster Council’s public health team in the hope of raising awareness of the sessions so others will also attend.

The Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) training, which is an online course and supported by the council’s Vulnerable People’s team, provides free suicide awareness training that teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Participants learn how to spot suicide warning signs, how to have a conversation with someone they’re worried about, where to direct someone for further support and understand that suicide can be preventable.

Lynn said: “Very sadly I have lost three people close to me to suicide including my brother 15 years ago and two very close friends in the last five years. This has obviously been devastating for me and my family and like many people who are affected by suicide I have had feelings of shame, guilt and that I could have done more to help them which are common feelings for those left behind and contribute to the stigma around it all.

“Even though I have been impacted by suicide in my life, I recently decided to attend the training because I wanted to understand more about it and, as time has gone on, find out if there are new approaches to it that I should be aware of.

“I already know how important talking about mental health and suicide is. We were very open with my brother but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to help him however, for others, just opening up a conversation could save a life and that’s where the training comes in by giving helpful advice about how to go about it.

“Being in a group on the day was interesting as all the people who attended had different experiences which was really useful to listen to. It definitely benefited me as it made me look at it in a different way and reinforced how talking more about it more can only help. I know others came away with a real understating of what signs to look out for and it gave them confidence and tips about how to approach what is a very difficult and sensitive subject if they were worried about someone they know.

“But even if you haven’t experienced suicidal thoughts yourself or are worried about a loved one’s mental health, the training really is beneficial for anyone. It’s very useful for everyone to equip themselves with a bit more knowledge about suicide because as I found you never know if it is going to impact you at some point in your life so why not be prepared if it sadly does. I’ll certainly never forget the training and have come away with a renewed understanding of how important it is to talk more openly about it. I really hope others will take up the opportunity and attend the upcoming sessions.”

The training, which has already been piloted in the north and then south localities of Doncaster, is now being rolled out in the east over the summer and finishing with the central area around World Suicide Prevention Day in September.

Sarah Smith, health improvement coordinator at Doncaster Council said: “Talking more about suicide really can save lives and that’s why we are rolling out this project to other parts of Doncaster now.

“The aim is for communities in Doncaster to be suicide aware and play a key role in the prevention and reduction of suicide by spotting early signs and creating opportunities for those thinking of suicide to ask for help. This training can be taken by those aged 16 and over so anyone can learn how to have a potentially life-saving conversation.

“The training can be stopped at any time should anyone decide it isn’t for them. This is not a classroom-based session but a flexible one where individuals can come along when it is convenient for them and start the session when they are confident and complete at their own pace whilst being supported by an online coach or one of the Vulnerable People Team members.

“The work we have done so far has been really well received and we hope people will come along to the next sessions in June and July.”

Councillor Nigel Ball, Cabinet member for Public Health, Leisure, Culture and Planning added: “ l would encourage anyone to take up the offer of the free training that will help spot the signs around people who may be struggling and experiencing suicidal thoughts or thinking about self-harm. It’s never too late to get help or to help others and the first step around this is talking to each other, spotting the signs and acting on them”

The sessions over the summer are as follows and there is no need to book, just come along:

  • Wednesday 29 June 10am-2pm – Thorne Library, Field Side
  • Wednesday 6 July, 10am-2pm, Armthorpe Library, Church Street
  • Monday 11 July, 2pm – 5pm. Edenthorpe Library, Bardon Road
  • Tuesday 19 July, 1pm-4pm, Hatfield Library, High Street
  • Monday 25 July, 10am-2.45pm, Stainforth for All, Church Road

For more information about the ZSA suicide prevention training being held in Doncaster please email: phenquiries@doncaster.gov.uk.

You can find out more about the ZSA training generally on the Zero Suicide Alliance website.

For more details on mental health services in Doncaster visit our good mental health webpage.

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