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Residents reminded it's OK2Ask about suicidal feelings

Residents in the borough who may be struggling with mental health are being reminded it is #Ok2Ask and seek help from others.

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Article date: 7 September 2022

With World Suicide Prevention Day taking place this Saturday (September 10th) residents are being urged to come forward and ask for help from local support services and groups rather than suffer alone.

To help encourage more people to come forward in the borough, several residents who have themselves suffered with suicidal thoughts and or depression are taking part in a special campaign to help raise awareness of the local support services available.

Through social media, they have related their own struggles with depression and attempted suicide and how finding the courage to ask for help managed to transform their lives.

The residents taking part include Dean, from St Helens, who made an attempt at taking his own life after suffering with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), following spells serving in the armed forces and the Police.

Dean said: "I was in a very low place, it got very dark for me and I found it hard to control my anger.

"I couldn't understand why I was feeling this way and yet I would put on a happy face on for everyone else to see outside during this time. But behind closed doors it was pretty much turmoil for me really."

Dean did eventually seek help for his problems. He added: "The first point of support was the occupational health team at my employer which led to me being diagnosed with PTSD. I then started to talk to people who had been through similar experiences to myself in the armed forces, Police and other organisations and that helped."

Dean now works with the Wonderland Community Centre in St Helens providing vital support for others with mental health issues.

The Wonderland Centre is one of a number of support services now available to residents in the borough, which also include groups such as Change Grow Live, St Helens Mind and the Chrysalis Centre for Change.

In addition the Cheshire and Merseyside Public Health Collaborative (Champs) Suicide Prevention Strategy will be launched on September 9th. The strategy has been developed following extensive consultation with a broad range of organisations and people who see the impact first-hand - those with lived experience of suicide and self-harm.

Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage said: "There is help and support available locally 24 hours a day and we would urge people to reach out and talk to family, friends or local support groups if they feel low.

"The aim of the new regional strategy is that through collective action we can hopefully make a difference in tackling mental health issues in the borough. Suicides are not inevitable and by working together we can make a difference to people's lives, creating hope through collective action."

 Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: "Asking for help is something we should feel we can do without any risk of stigma or judgement and it is important that we all remember that it is now Ok2Ask if we are trouble.

"Every suicide is potentially preventable and with the excellent network of support groups we now have in the borough we really hope that people will reach out and ask for help when they most need it.

"Several of the groups include volunteers who have themselves been through very tough experiences in their own lives and can provide empathy, support and the ability to just sit and listen."

A special memorial event for residents who have lost family or friends to suicide will be held at St Helens Town Hall on September 29th. Further details are here: St. Helens -Suicide Memorial Event for Families and Community Tickets, Thu 29 Sep 2022 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

For further details on the Ok2Ask including resources for help and support go to: OK TO ASK (oktoaskcampaign.co.uk)

For more details on World Suicide Prevention Day visit : World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 (who.int)

To contact the Mersey Care 24 hour Mental Health Crisis Line please contact 0800 051 1508

To contact the Samaritans: Free-to-call service, available 24 hours a day, dial 116 123.

You can also Text REACH to 85258 - it's a free, confidential, 24/7 text message support service for anyone struggling to cope. 

Zero Suicide Alliance also provide 20 minute free training sessions that could help you potentially save someone's life. More details here : https://www.zerosuicidealliance.com/suicide-awareness-training

You can also download the Stay Alive App for free at  https://www.stayalive.app/