Plans To Create More "Zero Suicide" Suicide Crisis Centres Across The UK: It Started With One Psychiatric Patient’s Experience
When Joy Hibbins started to talk about setting up a Suicide Crisis Centre in Gloucestershire, most people were sceptical. She had recently been under mental health services after experiencing suicidal crisis herself. She was told that a “recent psychiatric patient” was “not an appropriate person to set this up.” She faced criticism, doubt and multiple barriers.
On 24th May 2019, the team at the Suicide Crisis Centre are marking their sixth anniversary of providing services. They still have a zero suicide achievement and this has drawn national attention to their work. There has never been a suicide of a client under their care.
Now other regions are keen to replicate what they do. The charity is being contacted by NHS services and others in different parts of the UK, all of them keen to have a similar service. In some areas, it is a single individual who sets things in motion.
Sue Willgoss’s son Danny died by suicide last year in Suffolk. A few months later, Sue read Joy’s book “Suicide Prevention Techniques: How A Suicide Crisis Service Saves Lives” (published last December) and it instantly resonated with her. She felt that a similar crisis service could make such a difference in Suffolk. She felt it could have made such a difference to her son.
The team from Suicide Crisis have now been invited by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to provide a workshop later this month to explain about the Suicide Crisis Centre and their methods, approach and ethos – and why all their clients survive. The large invited audience of mental health professionals, commissioners, police, emergency services, service users and carers will look at how they could replicate the model in their area.
Joy said “It is desperately sad that it is the death of a young man which has started the drive to have a Suicide Crisis Centre in Suffolk. Once again, it has been a person’s lived experience which has been a driving force – a person being unable to get the right kind of help at the point of suicide. That was my experience. Tragically, Danny didn’t survive his suicidal crisis. But his death is causing many people to work to ensure that other people in the region who are in crisis will have access to the right kind of help.”
“They are particularly interested in the fact that we don’t just provide a Suicide Crisis Centre, and that we go out to clients’ homes when necessary. They can see how this can make a significant difference: that not all clients will be able to travel to a Suicide Crisis Centre when they are in crisis. But it is also our ethos, approach and methods which have drawn their interest. We work in a different way from other services, including mental health services. I wrote the book to explain those differences in detail.”
Joy and her team have been invited by NHS trusts and individuals in other regions to share details of their model of service and they will be visiting those regions later in the year. The regions are considering whether a similar Crisis Centre would work in their area.
“We are getting a lot of calls and contact from people in crisis other parts of the UK, even though we currently only provide a service in Gloucestershire. We always provide emergency help on the day that the person calls, wherever they are in the UK. But that may take several hours and it can mean that it becomes difficult to meet the demand for our services in Gloucestershire. There is a clear need for Suicide Crisis Centres to be set up in other parts of the UK.”
“Both yesterday and today we have been receiving calls from people in Scotland. I am so glad that they called us. Those were potentially life-saving phone calls. But we are struggling to cope with the demand from outside Gloucestershire. We are at the point where we have become a national crisis service, by default, because of the gaps in services.”
Ref 1: The Government has written to thank the charity for their “excellent work” and described them as an example of “best practice”. The charity’s methods and approach have drawn the attention of a Parliamentary Select Committee which undertook an inquiry into the measures needed to prevent suicide. Representatives from the charity were also invited by the Government’s adviser on suicide to give a presentation about their work to the national advisory group which he chairs. Joy and her team have drawn the interest and support of all three main political parties, with Luciana Berger, the Labour MP, visiting their Crisis Centre and Norman Lamb, of the Lib Dems, inviting them to meet him in London.
Joy's book "Suicide Prevention Techniques: How A Suicide Crisis Service Saves Lives" was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in December 2018. The author's royalties are being paid directly by the publisher to Suicide Crisis, so every copy sold raises money for the charity.
For more information about this story please contact Joy on 07889 420200 or at Joy.Hibbins@suicidecrisis.co.uk