23 June 2016

Trust hosts ninth Suicide Prevention Conference

Suicide prevention conferenceOur ninth Suicide Prevention Conference created plenty of food for thought this week.

The tone of this year's conference seemed to be set right from the off: "Suicide is a major public health issue," said our non-executive director, Ruth Brunt, opening the event.

"Suicide is a uniquely devastating event...it affects families, friends and loved ones for many years [following the death]," she said.

The audience, made up of health professionals, support staff, carers, service users, and families, were shown a short film that demonstrated how the NHS usually supports people with lived experience of suicide well, but that we sometimes get it very wrong. The film reminded attendees of the need to "consider the person" behind every statistic.

The first keynote speaker of the day was Angela Samata. Following the death of her partner, Mark some years ago, Angela has become a prominent figure in suicide prevention. As part of the BBC's In the Mind season of mental health programmes earlier this year, Angela's film 'Life After Suicide' became one of the most acclaimed and talked about.

Angela talked openly about how the death of Mark had impacted on her life and those of her children. She told the audience of the journey she has been on since that time, sharing both the difficulties and the progress that her family has made. Her message was that nobody should be defined by suicide and that life does - and must - continue.

Next up was health editor for BBC Points West, Matthew Hill. Matthew had chosen the theme of 'Suicide and the media: public interest versus compassionate reporting', a subject which led to very challenging questions and some illuminating answers.

Matthew explained the difficulty of trying to cover complex issues such as mental health in a very short news package, while staff offered him guidance on more acceptable terms which could be adopted when talking about certain conditions or incidents.

The day continued with a range of workshops, networking opportunities and further presentations.

Pictured (click for larger image): (Top left) Matthew Hill with Ruth Brunt, (top right) Matthew with Angela Samata (centre) Angela during her talk.  

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