Jo, Wellbeing Practitioner & Counsellor from our Counselling, Health and Wellbeing team, talks about creating a Suicide-Safer University. Find out how you can become a Suicide-Alert Helper and learn the skills to identify and support any person who may be having thoughts of suicide…
Suicide is one of the most serious issues all universities face, and knowing what to do and what to say to help somebody who is struggling is important.
Many people believe that suicide is inevitable; however, all evidence points to it being preventable. Furthermore, the prevention of suicide is not so specialised that only a few people can save lives; suicide is a matter pertaining to everybody, because everybody can do something about it.
It is important though to understand that there are proven ways to deal with someone who is suicidal and knowing what to do and what to say is important.
On 22nd February, Living Works – the world-leading organisation for Suicide Intervention training – came to Cardiff University to deliver a Suicide Alertness training Workshop, called SafeTALK, to a group of 30 student volunteers and staff representatives.
This half-day Workshop prepares anyone, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a Suicide-Alert Helper, and teaches people how to identify a person experiencing suicidal thoughts.
The Workshop aims to teach people to recognise the signs that somebody may be considering suicide, but also to equip them to empathically engage a person in distress by directly asking about suicide.
Suicide: Myths Vs. Facts
There is a common myth that if you ask somebody if they are thinking about suicide, you may plant the idea in that person’s head; however, all evidence demonstrates that discussing suicide will not give somebody the idea. In fact the opposite is true; bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.
It is also common for people to believe that all people who commit suicide just want to die. However, most people with suicidal thoughts don’t actually want to end their lives, but struggle with some pain in their lives which leads them to suicide. Their behaviour is often their call for help.
SafeTALK teaches people to identify those calls for help and act upon them, by following 4 x simple ‘TALK’ steps: ‘Tell’, ‘Ask’, ‘Listen’ and ‘Keep-safe’. It also trains people on how to avoid inadvertently: Missing, Dismissing or Avoiding signs and cues that another person is thinking of suicide, and how to connect that person to specialised support.
Towards a Suicide-Safer University: A community-wide approach
Suicide Prevention is typically seen as a matter pertaining exclusively to Mental Health services; however, communities play a huge role in saving lives, and work to increase suicide safety is most effective if there is a combination of efforts from people across a community, working together so that more lives can be saved.
In collaboration with Living Works, the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service intend for SafeTALK training to be available more widely, to enable every person at Cardiff University to have the opportunity to become a Suicide-Alert Helper, and to create a supportive Suicide-Safer University community in which suicide is everybody’s business.
Become a Suicide-Alert Helper
If you would like to become a Suicide Alert Helper, please register your interest in attending a SafeTALK Workshop, by emailing Jo Pinder in the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team, at: Wellbeingchampion@Cardiff.ac.uk
Ongoing work to reduce mental health stigma is also an important part of the work towards creating a Suicide-Safer University. Not only does stigmatisation of mental illness often prevent people from seeking support, which in turn exposes them to greater risk of suicide, but also suicide can sometimes seem the best solution for somebody who is experiencing stigma. Further, suicide is, itself, a source of stigma, as people with suicidal ideation are sometimes viewed by others to be weak, cowardly or selfish.
Time to Change
Cardiff University has signed the Time to Change anti-stigma Campaign pledge, committing to being part of the fight to end mental health stigma and to encouraging staff and students to talk about their concerns to one another as part of a supportive University community. If you would like to get involved by joining the Time to Change Student Working Group, please email Jo Pinder in the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team, at Wellbeingchampion@Cardiff.ac.uk
The Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service also hosts a team of Wellbeing Champions – student volunteers who support other students to look after their wellbeing. The Champions provide peer support in the form of wellbeing advice out-and-about on campus, offering a non-judgemental listening ear, providing information and self-help resources, promoting the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, and signposting other students to specialised support.
See the Wellbeing Champions in action
Contact us in Counselling, Health and Wellbeing
If you are struggling to improve your wellbeing, please know that Cardiff University Support Services are here for you – there is no problem too big or too small, and we offer a wide range of flexible support options.
Bookable therapy appointments are available via our online referral questionnaire. Watch our Video, to meet our friendly, approachable staff, and to learn about the kind of appointment which might best suit you.
We also offer a Wellbeing Walk-In Daily Drop-In Service, Monday to Friday, 3pm to 3.45pm and Wednesday mornings, 9.30am to 10.15am, at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place, and a Walk-In Service at our Student Support Centre at Cardigan House on our Heath Park Campus, on Wednesday afternoons, 3pm to 3.45pm.
We also offer a wide range of Wellbeing Workshops, which are designed to offer information, support and self-help resources on a variety of useful topics and common difficulties experienced by students, including; self-esteem, loneliness, depression, anxiety (presentation, exam and social), stress management and confidence. We also run workshops on how to improve your wellbeing, address insomnia and learn how to do desk yoga.
Courses & Groups
A number of different therapeutic Courses and Groups are also available, and these offer a safe and confidential space for you to explore issues, share concerns and develop new skills over the course of several weeks.
If you are worried that you are experiencing physical symptoms that may be affecting your health, we strongly advise you to make a GP appointment to discuss this. If you do not already have a GP, please contact NHS Wales on 0845 46 47 or check out their website to view all of your GP options. The University also has its own GP Practice: Park Place Surgery for those in their catchment area.
Your feedback and help please
Have you found this blog post useful? Please help us by commenting in the comments bar below, and if there is anything further you’d like to know, please ask your questions there too.
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Jo, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Team.
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.