Did anyone see the STV report a couple of weeks ago about suicide intervention training courses aimed at the likes of taxi drivers, hairdressers, publicans etc? It's a great idea because these are the very people who have a set period of time to talk to someone rather than a nod or couple of words in passing. It was a report about the launch of this TV advert.
Anyway I decided to find out about the training with a view to doing it myself. I don't think it's an intensive course and you definitely don't end up qualified to be standing on that roof talking someone out of it. I think it's more about being able to sense when someone is feeling suicidal, knowing what to say and importantly what not to say. And having information on support services available to them.
I wish I had done it because earlier this week I found myself receiving a call from a support worker desperately worried about a constituent of mine. She was right to be, he was clearly contemplating suicide as I discovered when he reluctantly spoke to me. It is absolutely terrifying to be the person on the end of the phone knowing this person wants to die, knowing you could say something to make it worse and knowing too that there are words that could help but you don't know what they are.
Bearing in mind that everyone in my office has taken calls from people who are at least deeply depressed if not suicidal, we've decided we'll all do the training. And I'd encourage anyone who works with members of the public in whatever capacity to consider it. It's no different to doing First Aid training and you could save someone's life. You can contact Choose Life by clicking here and you can watch the TV ad here.
As a footnote, my constituent is hanging on in there but as someone who has SOME experience of the whole question of suicide, I have no doubt he's not out of the woods yet. He's agreed to take the referral we got him although doesn't see the point and we're working with him to resolve the problems that lead him to this state. I don't intend becoming a social worker to all constituents but some need a bit of extra time from you and then it ceases to be about being someone's MSP and is more about being a fellow human being. No doubt when we've done the training I'll be spreading the word and encouraging everyone I know to follow suit. Can't do any harm!