Suicide prevention charity keen to role out ‘vital’ training in all St Albans schools

The Herts Advertiser has supported the OLLIE foundation with its 'Something to Talk About' campaign

The Herts Advertiser has supported the OLLIE foundation with its 'Something to Talk About' campaign - Credit: Archant

A suicide prevention charity is keen to roll out its ‘vital’ training across the district, say its two newly qualified trainers.

OLLIE trainers Christine Black (left) and Wendy Henrys (right)

OLLIE trainers Christine Black (left) and Wendy Henrys (right) - Credit: Archant

The OLLIE Foundation (One Life Lost Is Enough) was set up earlier this year by three local parents who lost their children to suicide.

The Herts Advertiser has teamed up with the new organisation for its ‘Something to Talk About’ Campaign, aiming to promote conversation about suicide.

Wendy Henrys and Christine Black are the foundation’s ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and SAFEtalk trainers, who will teach those who take on the training how to spot the signs of suicide and help those in need.

Christine used an analogy to describe the difference between SAFEtalk and ASIST. She said: “Imagine if you’re in an office reception and you see someone collapse. You’ve got the people who recognise that something is wrong and the people who carry out first aid.

“The people who recognise that something is wrong are the SAFEtalk trained people; they are the people who identify the person needs a first aider, who in this instance, is the ASIST trainer.”

The pair recently became fully-qualified trainers and have already carried out the training in local schools Sandringham, Verulam, and Beaumont.

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The charity hopes to help schools across the county by offering courses to give staff and sixth formers ASIST and SAFEtalk training.

Wendy said: “What we’re saying is we don’t know, any of us, when we might need this information. It’s something that you’ve got for life and so thinking of the sixth formers, if they get trained in school, they’ve got that for life.”

But that’s not where the training ends. The charity will be holding courses for anyone, from parents to businesses, at regular intervals.

Christine said: “When you get that feeling when you’re with somebody that something is not quite right, it’s being able to act on it. If you’re scared inwardly that somebody is going to do something to harm themselves in any way, it’s being able to develop the skills to bring it up and say ‘are you thinking of killing yourself?’.

“If anyone is reading this and thinking, ‘I don’t know what I’d do’, then they should contact us.”

She went on: “And not only talk about it in the setting of SAFEtalk, but actually use that to be in the community so that it affects and influences what you are saying to people, family members, other school kids, teachers, to make the community kinder.”

The pair both strongly agreed that the topic of suicide was not spoken about enough and that more people should feel open to approach the topic.

Christine said: “I think one of the reluctances, the barriers to actually attending the training, is because people think it’s a bit taboo; that there’s still a stigma attached to even talking about it.

“If you don’t talk about then you don’t have to worry about it but if somebody kills themselves, nobody is talking about anything else. It’s actually bringing down the taboo of talking about it by talking about it.”

Wendy added: “There was a time where no-one used to talk about paedophiles, or miscarriages, and nobody would talk about somebody being made redundant, no one would talk about divorce. Now it’s every day, and people are comfortable talking about it. That’s where suicide needs to be.”

One of the charity’s trustees is deputy head at Sandringham school, Richard Found, who is working with Alban Teaching School Alliance to promote the training in schools.

He said he hoped that it would take place at other schools in the district over the next 12 to 18 months.

Richard said: “Those trained are not counsellors but we’re filling the gap between teachers and those medically trained. It’s gone down really well so far.

“Lots of schools are now looking to promote and teach emotional wellbeing as well academics and it’s important to cite OLLIE in the context of emotional wellbeing.”

To find out more about the ASIST and SAFEtalk training email:

For more information about the charity visit: