ASK – what do you think?

So what do you think when you see ASK in capitals?

I wasn’t sure what I was thinking when I signed up to do a course looking at intervening in children thinking of suicide. This course is aimed at 4-15year olds interventions.

Sobering thought. Just take a minute to re-read that and let it sink in.

We have really young people who think death will solve their problems. How do we feel about that? What society have we created?

If this isn’t wake up call to speak opening about mental ill health – all ages, all cultures, all social class etc – I don’t know what is.

Learning ASK stands for Assessing risk of Suicide in Kids – sent a judder through my body. I’m used to assessing risk in adults but children as young as 5? Yet, this is an uncomfortable, necessary thought we need to carry with us. We need to be able to engage with children struggling and show them it’s ok to feel the way they do.

Some startling stats learned on the course:

In 2015 the UK published child suicide data for the first time. Bear in mind, coroners don’t like giving suicide as the cause of death in adults let along children. The UK recorded 200 deaths in this year alone. Research shows the highest risk age group is 10-14 experiencing suicidal thoughts, suicide planning and suicide behaviour.

The ASK course also shared 30% of children aged 5-14 tell someone about their suicide thoughts. Read that again – 5-14 year old. We must be more alert and open with our children. Encouraging children to feel valued and speak up about their feelings is vital.

We try to protect our children by sugar coating sadness ‘nanny has gone to heaven’ or ‘nanny has gone to a much better place’ or ‘nanny has gone to have a really long sleep’. These do so much damage to children who need closure and to understand death is a permanent state.

Reading case studies of children struggling with their suicidal thoughts has been painful but an eye opener. I feel better able to help the very young people in my life.

If you are interested in learning more check out ASK training online and up skill today. http://www.lifelineworkshops.com

200 hours completed!

Around May 2019, I saw a news feature with Duke & Duchess of Cambridge launching the 24/7 UK crisis text line Give Us A Shout.

The idea seemed simple and brilliant. Mobile providers waived their fees for texts to this service. Anyone struggling with their emotions from feeling lonely to idealation to complete suicide, any age, could text the word SHOUT to 85258 and get help to take them from a hot moment to a cool calm.

As a completely text service 24/7, those struggling didn’t have to overcome fear or anxiety of speaking to someone via a telephone line. Nor did they have to take part in a video call.

Completely anonymous.

This idea peaked my interest. The new launch was to engage with volunteers to train to go on the platform and support. The training was long and intense.

A coach is assigned from joining Give Us A Shout until a volunteer decides to leave.

This wrap around support for texters and volunteers is unique so I applied and thankfully was accepted.

Starting off as a baby chick (new volunteer) I could only take one texter at a time. The commitment is to give 200 hours to the platform before deciding to leave.

That target seemed light years away and completely unattainable. However, I received the following email from my Coach – I didn’t even realise I passed the landmark!

Congratulations on having spent 200 hours on the Platform.

Thank you for giving so much of your time and empathy to our texters. We really appreciate every second you’ve spent with us on the Platform…….720,000 seconds to be exact!

I’m sure that when you made a commitment to do 200 hours of volunteering with Shout it seemed almost unattainable, and yet you have made that commitment a reality and for that we are all so grateful to you.

We look forward to you continuing to support texters and other Shout Volunteers with your invaluable experience for many more hours to come.

My plan is to continue volunteering as long as I can for this unique service. Feedback shows me, it really makes a difference to those struggling.

I always teach people I work with ‘Never look at big targets. They always feel unattainable. Instead, look at bite sized steps. You’ll soon achieve your end goal and learn so much along the way.’

I know I have.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, no matter the time of day or night or issue that’s on your mind, text the word SHOUT to 85258. Help is there. You don’t need to go on any struggle alone.