'You may just save a life' - Herts residents urged to watch free suicide prevention training video

Hertfordshire County Council is marking World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 on Friday

Hertfordshire County Council is marking World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 on Friday by encouraging everyone to watch a free 20-minute online training presentation produced by the Zero Suicide Alliance. - Credit: HCC/ZSA

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021, which takes place today, is being marked in Hertfordshire with everyone encouraged to watch a free 20-minute online training presentation produced by the Zero Suicide Alliance.

In Hertfordshire, there are around 100 deaths by suicide each year. This is below the national average; but numbers have been increasing slightly each year since 2017. Every suicide is a tragedy, so Hertfordshire’s vision is to become a county where no-one ever gets to a point where they feel suicide is their only option.

The training helps people know how to help someone who is in distress.

Hertfordshire County Council's executive member for public health and community safety, Morris Bright, said: “This is such an important subject, we shouldn’t shy away from talking about it.

“With mental health issues increasing since the start of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we all play our part in looking out for each other, so we would urge everyone to give up 20 minutes of their time to watch the training presentation. It might just save a life”

Edward Mallen was tragically hit by a train

Edward Mallen was tragically hit by a train - Credit: Archant

The Zero Suicide Alliance was co-founded by father Steve Mallen - whose son Edward took his own life in their village, just over the county border in Meldreth, in 2015. His death came after sudden and inexplicable onset of clinical depression that year.

Steve Mallen is on BBC documentary Horizon on Wednesday evening.

Steve Mallen is on BBC documentary Horizon on Wednesday evening. - Credit: Archant

At his funeral, Steve made a promise to Edward that he would reform mental health and suicide prevention in the UK so that if the 18-year-old were to walk into a doctor's surgery today, the outcome would be different. 

The ZSA started with only four members who were united by passion to prevent suicide worldwide. The founding members used their vast experience in the NHS and beyond to expand the charity and spread our key message, that suicide is preventable. It has grown significantly, with a membership of over 2,500 individual supporters and over 700 member organisations from across the globe.


Meldreth's Steve Mallen speaking at the launch of the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide A

Meldreth's Steve Mallen speaking at the launch of the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide Alliance - Credit: Zero Suicide Alliance

Steve said: "When I lost my son to suicide six years ago, it became immediately apparent that we have to improve our understanding of mental illness and suicide at a society level.  

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"Suicide prevention is everybody’s business and a little training and awareness can go a long way in reducing crisis and preventing tragedy. This is one of the reasons the Zero Suicide Alliance was created.  

"I completely welcome Hertfordshire’s initiative here and I hope that as many Herts residents as possible access this free, online resource. In doing so, they will join more than 1.7 million people who have completed this training in the past two years.  

"My family grew up in Hertfordshire so there is a particular and very welcome personal resonance here.”

Contrary to popular belief, asking someone if they are thinking about taking their own life does not make them more likely to act on their thoughts.

Dr Joanne Farrow, deputy medical director and suicide prevention lead for Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust said: “Many people are afraid of having a difficult conversation with someone they are worried about, because they don’t know what they should say.

“That’s why Hertfordshire’s suicide prevention network is working together to promote the training. It explains that it’s OK to talk about suicide and helps people understand how to help someone they are worried about by spotting the signs, knowing what to say and signposting to help.”

To do the training simply visit www.bit.ly/suicidepreventionherts or search Zero Suicide Alliance training online.

If you or someone you know is in need you can call NHS 111 and select option 2 anytime 24/7 for specialist mental health support or contact Samaritans free on 116 123

The Stay Alive App, a suicide prevention resource, is available in Hertfordshire. It has tools to help keep people safe in times of crisis and details of the emergency or support services to contact in Hertfordshire. It can be used if someone is experiencing difficulties with their mental health or having thoughts of suicide, or if they are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.

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