St Albans psychotherapist working with OLLIE foundation offers advice on how to bring up topic of suicide

A one-on-one counselling service has been suspended.

A one-on-one counselling service has been suspended. - Credit: Archant

A psychotherapist has offered her advice on how to open up the topic of suicide as part of the Herts Advertiser’s Something To Talk About campaign.

The Herts Advertiser has teamed up with the OLLIE foundation for our 'Something to Talk About...' ca

The Herts Advertiser has teamed up with the OLLIE foundation for our 'Something to Talk About...' campaign - Credit: Archant

The campaign has been launched by the paper in partnership with the OLLIE (One Life Lost Is Enough) foundation after speaking with charity trustee Stuart Falconer, who lost his 15-year-old son Morgan to suicide last year.

The charity aims to fund ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) trainers in St Albans schools to help spot those displaying signs of suicidal thoughts.

Wendy Henrys, St Albans based psychotherapist and OLLIE ASIST trainer, has offered her advice on how to bring up the topic with people you might be concerned about.

She believes that making suicide a topic of conversation is very important and should be spoken about, even if there are only minor concerns.


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Wendy said: “By mentioning the word suicide you are showing that the subject needs to be addressed. Often people avoid the subject as they think they may be giving a person the idea. However, showing that you want to know the answer is telling that person you are there for them.

She added: “Come straight out with it when you are alerted to the fact that this could be in someone’s mind. If they are not thinking about it, you are showing you care and that person will know that if their thoughts do change you are not judging and they might talk to again.”

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If someone vocalises thoughts about taking their own life then intervene to keep them safe until mental health professionals can be contacted.

Wendy continued: “It is about intervening to keep that person safe for now until contact can be made with their GP or local mental health teams.”

It is key to listen and build on anything they say.

She went on: “For example, if someone is away from home and lonely for their family and friends it is about making suggestions for how that could be alleviated like offering to help make a phone call. Giving choices for a person to consider helps them move away from stuck thoughts.”

But what if someone doesn’t want to speak out? Wendy said there was still more that could be done. She added: “You can only help someone who wants your help; however you can try to remove some of the risks like removing pills or arranging for people to be around.”

Wendy advised against handing out advice, but instead listen and ask questions, using the answers to make suggestions.

If someone is considering the ‘final step’, on a bridge, or near a railway, call 999. Intervening is only appropriate when they are at the maybe stage.

For more information on OLLIE, click here.

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