Every Life Matters was founded in 2018 by a group of individuals, personally and professionally impacted by suicide, with the twin aims of reducing Cumbria’s high suicide rates and ensuring that survivors of bereavement by suicide have appropriate and timely support. We take an innovative and whole community approach to suicide prevention, focused around development of localised Suicide Safer Community Projects across Cumbria’s six districts.
- Cumbria has some of the highest suicide rates in England, with our coastal districts in particular hovering around 50% above the England average.
- Around 55 people die by suicide in Cumbria each year, over three times the number who die on our rural roads. Suicide remains the biggest killer of our young people and over 75% of suicides in Cumbria are men.
- Over 75% of people who die by suicide and are not in contact with mental health services in the year leading up to their death. Services and support are there, but most people do not reach out for help.
- Bereavement by suicide is recognised as one of the most traumatic and lonely forms of loss. Each suicide on average impacts the mental and physical health of 34 people including relatives, friends, work colleagues and those involved in care of the person before and after their death.
- Cumbria’s suicide rates remain stubbornly higher than the national average, and a disproportionate amount of these deaths are also focused on the West coast of Cumbria and Carlisle.
- It is friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours and our network of community and voluntary organisations, not just those in formal services, who have an important part to play in saving lives.
Our charity is supported by an experienced team, our core staff group includes:
Chris Wood, Development Manager - An experienced charity CEO with significant fundraising, service design/development, financial/people management experience.
Juliet Gray, Training Manager - Cumbria’s third sector suicide prevention lead, accredited Living Works/MHFA/SFA Trainer, trained over 8,000 people in suicide prevention skills
Michael Cassells, Project Work South – Significant experience of Community Development, Charity Governance and lived experience led training delivery.
Ian Alcock, Project Worker West – Youth Worker and Community Development expertise.
Michelle McGibbon – Community Fundraising and Corporate Giving experience.
7 Associate Trainers with a rich variety of mental health/suicide prevention training experience.
Five Trustees with various backgrounds/skills, sharing a common experience of loss by suicide. Binding us is a shared personal passion to reduce suicides and to ensure that no one experiencing suicidal thoughts has to suffer alone.
We believe that every member of our local communities has a part to play in suicide prevention;
That family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours and the network of community, faith and voluntary groups that surround us are best placed to recognise when someone is at risk of suicide, and to reach out and help people get the support they need.
That challenging the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health is vital to enabling people with thoughts of suicide to reach out for support.
Our vision is of a community where we can talk openly about suicide, mental health problems and emotional distress. Where we have the knowledge and skills to support each other. And that the devastating impact of suicide is recognised, and that those bereaved or affected have access to appropriate support.
How the money will be used
TO OFFER TRAINING
The Suicide Safer Community will be supported by delivery of the following training packages across each District;
1. Suicide Alertness Training – 3 hour flexible core package
2. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training – 2 Day Gold standard training
3. Suicide First Aid – 1 Day City and Guilds accredited Training
Training will be available both as in-house sessions for local community, faith, third, public and private sector organisations and will run as ongoing open access sessions widely advertised across the community.
- Suicide Alertness Training
The key ingredients of suicide alertness training are;
• Understanding the key facts and myths surrounding suicide. For example, actual rates of attempted and completed suicides in our area, who are the highest risk groups, relationship between self-harm and suicide. Challenging common misperceptions such as “if I ask them if they want to kill themselves it will make it worse” or “If someone really wants to kill themselves there is nothing we can do to stop them”
• “Asking the question” and Safe Plans – Learning how to talk openly and frankly to someone about suicidal intent, how to start to help the person find hope and make themselves safe, how practically we can help and the critical importance of allowing another to be heard. Suicide is still largely a taboo subject in our society, but like mental health generally, it is important as a society we begin to learn to have open conversations, and to overcome the stigma attached to it.
• Support resources – What support is available to the person at risk locally, and crucially, how to get help for someone at high risk from statutory services.
- Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. For full information https://www.livingworks.net/programs/asist/
- Suicide First Aid. For full information https://www.suicidefirstaid.uk/
Is focused around ongoing public meetings which act as a forum for organising and inspiring action. Every Life Matters will provide ongoing support to these meetings and any arising action, through both staff support, training and provision of materials and where necessary small amounts of funding.
Activity carried out by a Suicide Safer Community will be to some degree dependent on the community members involved and direction the group wish to take, but is likely to include the following core activity;
- Engagement with a range of local print and social media promoting suicide awareness, including through members of the group bereaved by suicide or who have experienced suicidal thoughts.
- Recruitment of local champions whose role is to spread awareness about suicide at a more localised level such as in a workplace, rural villages, a WI network, a school, housing association, workplace etc.
- Open invite Public Awareness Sessions
- Distribution of suicide awareness literature across the community.
- Promotion of better organisational suicide prevention policy/procedure/practice.
- Supporting project specific public engagement events and supporting a presence at local events facilitating conversations about suicide and promoting suicide awareness.
Supporting Community Action is all about empowering and facilitating members of our community to do something practical about preventing suicide, no matter how small.
Some may want to undertake forms of awareness raising within their work place, a local community, a sports club or whatever forum they feel comfortable engaging with. Some Members will choose to be less active and may participate to enhance their understanding of the issue on the basis it may one day help them support a family member, neighbour, friend or colleague. Some may participate because they have been bereaved or directly impacted by suicide and want to find a way to make a difference.
All Project activity will be focused key prevention messages, raising awareness of suicide risk, dispelling common myths and misperceptions about suicide, increasing understanding of the range of support available for someone at risk of suicide and how to practically support someone who may be at risk of suicide.
Our aim is that those involved in, and reached by, Community Action activity feel more confident and knowledgeable;
- speaking directly about suicide
- knowing of when there is suicide risk
- listening to and supporting someone at risk
- directing someone at risk to other support services.
From years of experience of training delivery, and from our earlier pilot, Suicide Safer Eden, we know that this knowledge and confidence trickles down into real time, real life moments of genuine help, intervention and support out in the community for those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
And some of these moments may be genuinely lifesaving.
This element of the project will be co-ordinated through ongoing open access public meetings which serve as both awareness raising/training forums and an opportunity for members to come together to plan and co-ordinate activity. Members will be supported by Every Life Matters staff and will have access to a wide range of resources to aid their activity.
The Suicide Safer Community Model is based on a successful pilot in Cumbria of a community led approach to suicide prevention, Suicide Safer Eden. This place based/community asset based approach has been identified nationally as one of a number of best practice approaches to achieving suicide reduction, and the approach is included as a key priority in both the North East/North Cumbria ICS Regional Suicide Prevention Strategy and in the Pan Lancashire/South Cumbria Suicide Prevention Plan.
Feedback from training
On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is poor and five is excellent, participants were asked to rate their knowledge
Prior to the course rating average was 2.7 and at the point of completing the survey it was 4.2
Over 97% reported they were:
- Now more confident talking about suicide
- Now more comfortable talking about suicide
- Now more confident in asking directly about thoughts of suicide
- Though the subject is far from an enjoyable one, I really did enjoy the course and how it has made me change some of my ways of thinking. I liked the way in which the trainer engaged with us and her delivery of the material was effective
- The course was great and so much of the information has stuck with me
- I thought the course was very powerful with some good real life examples of the type of actions we can all take which may save lives.
- Course should be mandatory – please keep them going
- My 'suicide' radar is more active and I have a tendency to dig a little deeper when people talk about concerns over their physical or mental state of health. Just yesterday a friend openly confided in me that she had been having suicidal thoughts and I intent to follow up with her to explore this more deeply and support her where I can.
- In the days following the course I actually spoke to someone over the phone who told me they were contemplating suicide. I felt more confident in being able to reassure the person, phone the appropriate help and then go back to the person keeping them in the loop and talking on the phone.
- I think our team is more aware of the possibility of suicide happening to anyone and that it could be closer to home than first realised, because of this I feel we have become a lot more aware on a daily basis.
- There's been numerous times. Especially when people are talking about the impact on their wellbeing and they say I've been suicidal. I ask them if they are currently having any suicidal thoughts and have used the safety plan with people.
- My style/ behaviour/ approach is more confident and relaxed at the same time I feel ok and good about the topic
- Many of the clients who I work with have suicidal thoughts, having used the skills with some of the clients has helped them to make a plan and get though the next hours
- I have actually had two cases in the last week were people have approached me to ask for help and I have managed to listen to them and sign post them to the relevant places.