Suicide Prevention at Future Directions CIC

10th September 2017 |

Innovative staff training which doesn’t just tick a box.

Today, Sunday 10th September 2017 marks this years World Suicide Prevention Day. This campaign has a goal of raising awareness of how to prevent suicide through community action. Although the common outcome of this day is to prevent suicide occurring in our communities, this years slogan is: ‘Take a minute, change a life.’

 At Future Directions CIC our Suicide and Learning Disabilities training directly links to this sentiment encouraging all members of our community to have the responsibility to look out for individuals who maybe struggling, knowing how to approach them regarding suicide and knowing how to support them at their own pace, in the way which works for them.

2017 is the 15th World Suicide Prevention Day. Starting in 2003, as an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and endorsed by the World Health Organization, it takes place on the same day each year and has grown each and every year.

In the past it was suggested that individuals with a learning disability were protected from suicidal thoughts and behaviours, many believing that their cognitive ability didn’t allow such feelings. However recent studies and case reports, show clear evidence that people with a learning disability do think about, attempt and die by suicide.

One in six women with a learning disability have attempted suicide. People with a learning disability who in early years had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence or childhood sexual abuse have a high risk of suicide attempts. The lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts is much higher for women with a learning disability 16.6% compared to women who had not 3.3%. Many with a learning disability also are more likely to attempt suicide compared to men without a learning disability 7.7% compared to 2.1%. With statistics such as these, the risk of suicide in our community housing is high, it is imperative that training takes place for both ‘the people we support’ and also the staff who care for these individuals.

At Future Directions we offer self-harm, suicide and parasuicide training, this being provided to staff teams where it is identified that these behaviours are being displayed by the individuals they support.

The training covers a broad spectrum of areas:-

Suicide statistics and trends
History of suicide
Suicide myths and facts
What leads to suicide
Signs and symptoms
Demographic contributions
Risk factors
Attitudes to suicide
Effects of suicide
Assessments and treatments
Functions of self harm

This training we find from feedback from staff as being extremly beneficial. Staff can feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable with suicide being deemed a taboo subject and a main worry was noted as to how to talk to an individual without enhancing the sucidal feelings by lack of understanding. All of our support staff leave the training feeling comfortable about being able to discuss with the person and signposting them if needed to specialist clinical support.

At Future Directions if we have an individual who has been assessed as suicidal and at risk of self-harm we ensure the following:-

That clearly documented risk management guidelines are in place
That all staff are fully aware of the guidelines
That the guidelines are developed and owned by the wider multidisciplinary team and the individual
That both the risk assessments and the management guidelines are regularly reviewed
We ensure the individual is being supported by regular staff that they have a good relationship with
That during periods of increased suicide ideation or self harm, that levels of observations are increased and items that may be used to inflict damage or death to the individual are removed as previously agreed with the person being supported

At Future Directions our main success can be found in our ability to reduce self-harm and suicidal behaviours by ensuring that we are able to provide individuals with meaningful and engaged lifestyles. At risk individuals, are able to take control of the things they like to do, they develop their self-help skills, increase their self confidence and most importantly feel able to discuss openly with their staff, their feelings.

We believe it is our main aim to help the people we support to help others within their own community. We work with indiviudals who have experienced attempts of suicide and self harm who have made considerable progress, to train our staff and help other indiviudals who may be suffering from suicidal feelings, to take ownership and realise ways to help the feelings subside. Our training is in-depth, uncompromising, direct and honest. Our staff feel it is necessary in understanding how serious some of these behaviours can get in a short space of time if overlooked. We don’t believe in training our staff by use of facts and figures alone, we want them to experience real life stories and understand all of the people we support.

Since being part of our training programme, the individuals who have taken part have significantly reduced their feelings of self harm and suicide. Although we can never say they won’t have the feelings again, they have spoken of knowing where to go for support, they feel listened to and that their quality of life has been greatly improved by having a purpose, leading to a feeling of belonging and knowing that their’s is a life worth living.

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