Subject: Suicide Awareness & Response
Dr Andrew Tresidder & Alison van Laar
Participants of the latest TAP Saturday workshop braved a wet and cold wintry morning on the 9th Nov 2019 to attend a training day by Dr Andrew Tresidder, and Alison van Laar entitled `Suicide Awareness and Response`. Introduced by TAP chair Helena Trump, Andrew and Alison firstly established how the group would work together throughout the day including looking after each other and confidentiality on what can be a distressing and difficult subject. Expectations of the group were examined, which included learning more about suicide running in families, fear of using the word in therapy and therapist’s responsibilities among many others.
Setting the scene with some statistics, workshop participants heard that nationally, of those taking their own life only 30% had any contact with any Mental Health Services in the 12 months before their death. Research shows that 75% of suicides are male and the highest rate occurs in men aged between 30–59 years old although recently a rise in female rates of suicide has been recorded. In the UK it is said that 1 in 30 of us experience suicidal thoughts each year and that 1 in 10 act upon these thoughts. Suicide is the commonest cause of death in men and women aged 20-35, significantly above the rates for road traffic accidents, murder and heart disease.
No longer classed as a `crime` reports of suicide has seen the declining use of the verb `commit`, instead `complete` is more often used. This is in sharp contrast to England in the 13th Century where suicide was condemned as a mortal sin in the eyes of the Church and if proven the person would denied a proper burial and instead would be taken to a crossroads outside of the village in the dead of night and buried in a makeshift grave with no clergy or mourners. It was not until 1961 that suicide was decriminalised in the UK.
Working in pairs or triads, workshop participants were asked to consider when they have had someone concerned about suicidal thinking come and talk to them and to reflect on how it went and any risk factors identified. It was heard that `risk` is heightened by access to means, being bereaved, alcohol abuse, living alone and isolation, financial and legal problems, criminal proceedings, divorce, being bullied and unemployment among many other influences.
Andrew and Alison offered the view that suicidal thinking does not lead inevitably to the actual act and that suicidal thoughts occur in response to emotional or physical pain. It’s thought that most people just want to feel better in the present time and not end their life forever. Encouragingly the most powerful medicine for people with suicidal thoughts is `Hope`.
Andrew Tresidder is an accomplished author and copies of his book `Health and Self-Care` were on sale to participants of the workshop. For those keen to stay `paperless`, a free download of the book can be obtained here: www.healthandself.care
The day was punctuated with breaks for coffee, lunch and tea, which gave the group time to interact with each other, the presenters and to compare notes. By the end of the day it was clear that the workshop had been a great success and Alison and Andrew were thanked with a warm round of applause. Those interested in future TAP workshops are encouraged to regularly visit this website to view exciting new events for 2020. Remember, all welcome.
Workshop write-up provided by TAP Council Member David Trott