24th July is Samaritans Awareness Day
Good mental health is fundamental for thriving in life.
It is the essence of who we are and how we experience the world. This is a theme for Soroptimists in GB and Ireland and at our club in Nantwich and District, President Helen has also developed a programme to address a range of mental health issues. Suicide is particularly devastating, and we have The Samaritans as one of the charities we are supporting this year. Their mission is to enable a world where fewer people die by suicide. Around 6,000 people die by suicide every year in the UK, with someone taking their own life every 90 minutes (ONS, 2018; Samaritans, 2018). These deaths are devastating and shatter lives. Suicide is more common in men than women – in the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives than women. The impact on their families cannot be underestimated – they are sons, brothers, fathers, husbands and partners, and all will feel the shock of this tragedy.
Partnership between Samaritans and Network Rail
In our area, with its rail heritage, there has been a successful partnership between Samaritans and Network Rail and the wider rail industry since 2010 to reduce suicide on the railways and to support everyone affected by them. Every suicide leaves a lasting effect on family and friends, as well as rail staff, commuters and the wider community. The partnership focuses on seven key areas:
- Engaging the rail industry in suicide prevention and support activities
- Reaching out to those most at risk through awareness campaigns
- Training rail industry staff in suicide prevention
- Supporting people affected by a suicide
- Volunteer outreach and support at stations after a suicide
- Work with the media to encourage responsible reporting od rail suicides
- Work with police and health services
Since the partnership launched, it has:
- Trained over 16,000 rail staff in Samaritans’ suicide prevention and support courses
- Supported course delegates to make more than 400 reported life-saving interventions
- Won more than ten awards won in recognition of outstanding partnership and training work
- Run three suicide prevention and support conferences; and
- Increased engagement from train operating companies across England, Scotland and Wales year-on-year.
See this link if you want to know more: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/workplace/rail-industry-suicide-prevention-programme/supporting-local-railway-stations/
President Helen supports our local Samaritans
President Helen has been a supporter of Samaritans for many years, so this is very dear to her heart. She says:
“Like many people who volunteer to become Samaritans I had reached a time in my life when, to use a time-honoured phrase, I wanted to “give something back”. I was in my early 40s and my work was settled enough that I could allocate set hours each week to do my duties. All Samaritans have to do 4 duties a month including one overnight. It is a big commitment, but it is very rewarding and worthwhile. Samaritans don’t give advice to our callers, but we provide a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space for them to explore all their emotions and feelings. We don’t have 1471 so have no idea who the caller is or from which part of the country and we think that this anonymity is the reason we have so many callers. Nowadays people also contact us by email and text as well as face to face in the branch. All Samaritans branches are individual charities and self-funding. With these times of austerity, the old days of council funding and grants are well behind us and so we have to raise every penny by public donation. After 26 years as a Crewe Samaritan I sincerely believe that it is a charity well worth supporting and so am very happy to include it as one of my charities in my presidential year.”
Mothers and suicide
As a women’s organisation we also want to remember all women who have died by suicide and the devastating impact that this will continue to have on their loved ones as well as support action to reduce numbers in the future. The facts are stark and sad:
Locally we are also supporting Motherwell, a charity providing a service provided for women by women, promoting positive health and wellbeing, by offering a range of educational services, holistic therapies and mental health support.
The charity was set up by Kate Blakemore, whose own experience of how hard it can be to be a mum motivated her to do something with and for other mums – read more about her story here:
Motherwell Cheshire offers support to mums both before and after giving birth.
It offers one to one counselling and peer support groups. Most of the women referred to us suffer from high anxiety. The work that we offer helps the women to provide themselves with a ‘self-care toolkit’, by using a range of techniques from cognitive behaviour techniques to simple self-care activities. Their peer support groups offer mums space to talk with like-minded women from their local community, supporting them to feel understood and meet other women going through similar experiences. We will learn more about what they do and their vital contribution at our September dinner meeting, and we look forward to that to keep the conversation going.