Preventing Suicide – helping ourselves, helping each other
Sadly, suicide amongst veterans of armed forces across the world is too common.
The British Army is not immune and neither is the Regiment, as several tragic events this year have proved. But saying “we are not immune to suicides” is not good enough for us. So the Colonel and RHQ are doing something to help prevent suicides in our Fusilier Family.
We will arrange training to raise awareness and education, so that as many veterans as possible are trained to look out for and support each other. We’re prioritising the sharp end of suicide and want to develop a model of good practice, so that with proper training the same ‘buddy-buddy’ system can be maintained in civilian life as in military life, and so that no one feels isolated.
A former 2nd Fusilier and now a priest, Rev Andrew Rawding has offered to help us. He is civilian trainer for safeTALK, which trains people to be alert for the signs of potential suicide alertness trg. safeTALK is briefly described below, but RHQ is planning the following
- A number of 3 hour training sessions for the Regiment, across the four Areas and the Battalions
- Probably taking place midweek in Newcastle, Bury, Sheldon, RHQ and Tidworth, and probably in the evening
- Group size can be between 10 and 30.
- RHQ will fund all training costs, including the formal accreditation.
- Attendees can come from all parts of the Fusilier Family, including wives, partners and friends of the Regiment who want to offer their support.
Details of how to express your interest will soon be passed out to the Association Branches.
Suicide is complex, but the professionals emphasise that suicidal people feel disconnected (“I don’t belong”) and that they are a burden (“people would be better off without me”).
We already have a most powerful and effective resource to combat suicide – the Fusilier Family network. This can offer 24 hour connections with a fellow veteran who is available through social media; who has also been a soldier; who cares enough to listen; who can reinforce belonging to the Family; and who can remove any feelings of shame about being suicidal. All we need now is professional training
We rightly pride ourselves of being a strong family and that ‘Once a Fusilier. Always a Fusilier’ really does mean something. This lies right at the heart of suicide awareness and prevention training. So watch out for more announcements from RHQ via the Associations.
What is safeTALK ?
safeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper.
Most people with thoughts of suicide don’t truly want to die, but are struggling with the pain in their lives. Through their words and actions, they often invite help to stay alive. safeTALK-trained helpers can recognize these invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources, such as professional caregivers.
Since its development in 2006, safeTALK has been used in over 20 countries around the world. Over the course of their training, safeTALK participants will learn to:
- Notice and respond to situations where suicide thoughts might be present
- Recognize that invitations for help are often overlooked
- Move beyond the common tendency to miss, dismiss, and avoid suicide
- Apply the TALK steps: Tell, Ask, Listen, and KeepSafe
- Know community resources and how to connect someone with thoughts of suicide to them for further help