Kindness Saves Lives: World kindness day 13th November
Joy Hibbins set up the Suicide Crisis Centre after her own experience of suicidal crisis in 2012, and finding that the available services didn’t work for her.
She describes how kindness played a key role in helping her survive on the day she discharged herself from psychiatric hospital.
“I had been admitted to psychiatric hospital because I was at risk of suicide, but found the experience unhelpful. I asked to discharge myself, and this was agreed by the consultant psychiatrist responsible for my care.
I wandered the streets of Gloucester, not knowing where to go or what to do. As night fell, I was still in the city centre. Although I didn’t show any signs of distress, people started to be concerned about a lone female out at night. I was approached by a number of people, including two homeless men, who were worried that it wasn’t safe for a woman to be on the streets at night.
Others approached me over the hours that followed, including a Polish man who invited me to come to his home and have some hot chocolate with him and his family. All of these acts of kindness from strangers were totally unexpected. I had expected to walk unnoticed through those streets. There is no doubt that they helped me to survive that night – a night when I had intended to end my life.”
As Joy explained, she didn’t show any obvious signs that she was distressed or feeling suicidal – the strangers who approached her just felt she was vulnerable in some way.
It shows the importance of showing kindness to everyone we encounter. It could be the small act that helps keep them alive that day.
Now that Joy runs a Suicide Crisis Centre, kindness remains at the heart of her work.
“When someone is at the point of suicide, they may have disconnected from everyone around them. I know from personal experience that you can experience a kind of ‘tunnel vision’ at that point. Everyone you love and everything you care about is on some far distant horizon. You can no longer see them or hold them in your mind. At that point, we have to work hard to reach the person and reconnect them to life. Kindness and a caring approach can break through the barriers that you have created around yourself. Kindness has the power to reach someone who is very much at risk.”
The Suicide Crisis Centre has been providing services since 2013. There has never been a suicide of a client under our care. This is down to a combination of factors, including a highly trained, highly skilled team who work proactively and tenaciously to save lives. But there is no doubt that the strong connection our team builds with clients is a key factor. Kindness and care is at the heart of this.
The work of our Suicide Crisis Centre is attracting international attention. The Ministry of Health in New Zealand contacted us recently, as they plan their new national suicide prevention strategy. They have asked for more information about our work, and about our unique model of services, and our communications with them continue.
We provide a combination of Suicide Crisis Centre, home visits and emergency phone lines for our clients. This combination creates a safety net around our clients, holding them and minimising the gaps through which they could fall. We operate as a 24 hour crisis service in Gloucestershire.
There is interest in several other regions in replicating our model of crisis service.
Charity website: www.suicidecrisis.co.uk