Partners Join Forces To Support People and Help Save Lives This Christmas

18 December 2020 3:45pm

Shropshire and Telford Suicide Prevention Network is relaunching its suicide prevention campaign to support people’s mental health and help save lives this Christmas.

The local campaign Need to talk? – pick up the phone you’re not alone, features messages around signposting to immediate and longer-term support for those suffering from suicidal thoughts, advice and information on how to support your mental health, and stories from those who’ve been affected by suicide.

The partnership will be supporting the Samaritans Christmas Campaign with a focus on signposting people to the right help and support.

Christmas can be a tough time for many people, even without a pandemic to deal with. But, with restrictions on socialising this year, increased financial worries, and separation from family and loved ones, can create even more anxiety and stress for people.

To support people during this time, Shropshire and Telford Suicide Prevention Network wants to highlight the support on offer and raise awareness of the 'Pick up your phone you’re not alone' advice and information Zcard to help support those suffering from suicidal thoughts and those affected from it.

There is no simple explanation for why someone chooses to die by suicide, and it is rarely due to one particular factor. Mental health problems are important influences, as well as alcohol and substance misuse, feeling desperate, helpless or without hope.

The pocket sized Zcard is small enough to be easily carried in a wallet, purse or pocket so as to be used as reference whenever needed and provides:

  • Brief advice and guidance on how to address concerns
  • Contacts for a confidential, listening ear
  • Urgent contacts to seek immediate appropriate support.

Councillor Dean Carroll, Cabinet Member with responsibilities for Public Health and Adult Social Care at Shropshire Council, said: "Christmas can be a difficult time for some people, especially after a year of uncertainty and change. For those who’ve been struggling to cope with day-to-day life, this time of year can be extremely overwhelming.

"As members of communities, it is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling, check in with them, and encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Offering a gentle word of support and listening in a non-judgemental way can make all the difference.

“It’s essential to look after our mental health - and the mental health of others - by continuing to check in on anyone who may be struggling. Talking is good - whether it’s with a friend, family member, a qualified therapist or a confidential helpline. Please pick up the phone, you’re not alone.”

Councillor Andy Burford, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Telford and Wrekin Council, added: "Suicide is preventable, all of us can do something about it. At this time of year we need to be aware of those around us, a short conversation or just asking if someone is okay, is sometimes all it takes to save a person’s life.

“It’s important for people to talk, whatever they might be going through. These Zcards will let you know where you can find confidential and non-judgmental support.

"We all need to work together to reduce self-harm and suicide. We want to make it easier for people to talk about how they feel and encourage people to seek help when they feel it is needed.”

Co-chairs of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Suicide Prevention Network, Gordon Kochane, Public Health Consultant at Shropshire Council, and Lyn Stepanian, Public Health Practitioner at Telford and Wrekin Council, said: “No-one should struggle alone, particularly this time of year as we head into the festive season. We cannot emphasis enough how important it is for people to keep talking to one another in the run-up to Christmas. This can be a very difficult time for a lot of people, who have already had a challenging year

“We are encouraging people to look out for anyone who may be feeling they can no longer cope with day-to-day life. There is always someone to talk to, and there are many organisations out there ready to offer a listening ear. If you are struggling, please pick up the phone, you’re not alone.”

Richard Dunnill, Samaritans listening Volunteer and Deputy Director Partnerships, added: “We know that Christmas and New Year can be difficult for many people, as it’s a time when loneliness can really hit home and that this might be heightened this year.

"We want everyone in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin to know that free support is available 24/7 (including Christmas Day) and that we local Samaritans are volunteering alongside many other great local charities, Council and NHS services to be there for everyone in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin this Christmas. If you need support...or you're worried about someone...please pick up the phone - help is at hand.”

Anyone, whether you’re a child or an adult needing support or just someone to talk to, call the Samaritans 24-hour support service free, on 116 123 or text Shout to 85258.

You can download the 'Pick up the phone you’re not alone' Zcards online

If you're struggling this festive period, there are some things you can do to help yourself cope during this difficult time. To find out more go to Shropshire Council's website.

To access adult mental health services in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin call 0808 196 4501 or visit the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) website.

For more information about mental health services visit: www.shropshire.gov.uk/disability-information/mental-health/