Guest speakers talk about their experiences at Suicide Prevention Conference

Shrewsbury Town football player Omar Beckles was one of several guest speakers at the region's Suicide Prevention Conference, held this week (Tuesday 11 September) at the Montgomery Waters Meadow.

Guest speakers talk about their experiences at Suicide Prevention Conference

The annual conference which marks World Suicide Prevention Day (Monday 10 September), is hosted by Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin’s Suicide Prevention Network. Now in it’s 3rd year, the conference aims to raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health issues.

Over 150 people and organisations from the public, voluntary and community sector, attended the conference. This year’s programme focused on guest speakers who have been affected by suicidal thoughts, bereaved by suicide or who work with people most at risk of self-harm and suicide. The event also looked at:

  • What partners and local communities need to do to eliminate stigma for talking about suicide and suicidal thoughts to promote seeking earlier support.
  • How organisations can work together to identify what we can do to better connect appropriate and accessible support with high risk individuals who may have little or no contact with formal health or social care services.
  • Progress to date of the work identified in the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Between 2013 and 2015 there were 131 deaths formally recorded as suicide across Shropshire and Telford. These numbers are likely to be underestimated due to the legal necessities for categorising a suicide death.

Guest speaker Omar Beckles, who plays defender for Shrewsbury Football Club said: “I’m really grateful for Shropshire Council giving me the opportunity to speak at the conference. Hopefully we can continue to impact on the mental health issues we need to address within Shropshire.”

The Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy aims to help those at risk of considering suicide or self-harm. The strategy aspires to prevent all deaths from suicide in the region and ensure access to the most appropriate help and support for those considering suicide and for those affected by suicide.

Councillor Arnold England, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Telford and Wrekin Council, added: “We all need to work together to reduce self-harm and suicide attempts.

“This conference has brought together local councils, emergency and acute services, voluntary organisations, as well as communities and individuals to identify the roles we can all play.”

Suicide affects all types of people and communities and is associated with a wide variety of factors such as depression, alcohol and drug misuse, unemployment, family and relationship problems, social isolation and loneliness.

Councillor Lee Chapman, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing at Shropshire Council, added: “We want to get more people talking about self-harm, suicide and the risk factors associated with suicide in order to destigmatise and encourage people to seek help when they feel it is needed.

“Our Suicide Prevention Conference provides us with the opportunity to raise awareness that there is support out there and encourage those affected by suicide, to come forward.  You are not alone, we are here to help.”

Anyone, whether you’re a child or an adult needing support or just someone to talk to, should call the Samaritans 24-hour support service on 116 123 or make an urgent appointment to see their GP.

To access adult mental health services, in Shropshire call 0300 124 0365 or for Telford call 0300 303 1601 or visit their website.

Learn more and read the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy online.

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