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It’s OK to talk to people about how they feel

Suicide Prevention Action Group invites workers and employers to training morning

It’s OK to talk to people about how they feel

THE profound and shocking event of a suicide of a close relative or friend is among the greatest emotional trauma someone could suffer.

The effects of a suicide are long-lasting, leave many unanswered questions and are a severe emotional trauma for anyone who witnesses the event.

What could we have done? What did we miss ? If only I had listened to them, if only they had told me how they were feeling.

These are the rational questions.

If you are an employer, do we have a policy to support staff coping with stress and anxiety? Is there a well-being element to work place appraisals or opportunities for staff to discuss workplace stresses?

Research shows people are afraid of raising the subject of suicide with someone who may have voiced thoughts of ‘ending it all’.

Rationality and a loss of perspective usually leaves people thinking about taking their own life and research shows that these people don’t actually want to die.

What they want is for their circumstances to change and in their moment of irrationality they feel that the only way to change their life is to end it.

Is it OK to talk to people about how they are feeling? Is it OK to ask people if they are considering taking their own life?

These questions do not raise the idea of suicide in the mind of the person who is suffering, rather it raises an opportunity for them to talk about their current circumstances.

A common reaction to this may be ‘good god no, I’m not that bad and I wouldn’t want to do that to my family.’

This is good, because at least you will know their life may not be in danger.

If their answer is yes, it may then prompt further questions about what their circumstances are and what you may be able to do to alleviate some of the stresses in their life.

We can ask questions or make suggestions such as ‘have you thought of making an appointment with Citizens Advice West Berkshire, Relate, Samaritans Newbury or Time To Talk, which specialises in listening to young people?’

It is incumbent upon employers to take time to talk to staff, for example if they have displayed different behaviours from the norm.

They would perhaps discuss options with staff, guide them to expert services, suggest time off to help solve their problems.

They may offer overtime to help with money worries, fast track staff to an in house counselling service and make sure their employee sees their GP. The doctor can refer to expert services like Talking Therapies.

In 2017, local charity Volunteer Centre West Berkshire established the West Berkshire Suicide Prevention Action Group in partnership with the West Berkshire Health and Wellbeing Board.

This group, under the leadership of Garry Poulson, has brought together around 20 organisations with the key aim of finding practical solutions that might prevent suicide.

It also aims to raise awareness of organisations within West Berkshire who are there to support people affected by a suicide. For example Racing Welfare, the coroners courts, local police, Time To Talk, Samaritans, SOBS (Survivors of bereavement due to suicide), West Berkshire Public Health Board, Newbury Weekly News editor Andy Murrill, West Berkshire Council Highways, Newbury MP Richard Benyon, Public Health officers, the Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust and West Berkshire Transport and Highways.

On the morning of Friday, October 25, The Suicide Prevention Action Group invites frontline workers and employers to attend a suicide prevention training morning called ‘Start The Conversation’.

This will give very practical messages about how to spot the signs of stress and anxiety which could in some circumstances lead someone to have suicidal thoughts.

If you are an employer or person who is responsible for the wellbeing of people then do book a place by emailing

If you or someone you know is seeking help and advice here is a small selection of the resources that are available in West Berkshire. These organisations will be able to assist and or direct you to organisations who are able to help.

Talking Therapies 0300 365 2000
Samaritans please use 116 123
Citizens Advice West Berkshire 0300 222 5941
Relate in Newbury 0118 987 6161
SOBS (survivors of bereavement by suicide) 0300 1115065
Time To Talk 01635 760331
Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (01635) 869754
Racing Welfare in Lambourn (01488) 670034

THIS column is brought to you on behalf of the West Berkshire Health and Wellbeing Board. The board is responsible for improving the health and wellbeing of our population across the district by developing improved and joined-up health and social care services.

Tell us what you think by emailing Kamal Bahia, chair of Patient and Public Engagement Group, West Berkshire Health and Wellbeing Board –

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