Day 837

NSPA Conference: Part 2. Suicide Prevention: the changing conversation.

4. State of Mind Sports Charity (http://www.stateofmindsport.org/) made a dazzling presentation about how they promote positive mental health in sportsmen and women, fans and wider communities, thereby preventing suicides. Danny Sculthorpe gave a moving account of his dark times when his brilliant rugby career was seriously threatened by a very painful back problem.

“I just felt like I had lost everything and that nobody cared. After a couple of months, I couldn’t afford to pay the mortgage, and because Bradford were denying any responsibility for the injury, I had to try and find £3,000 for the physiotherapy I needed to give me any chance of getting back playing. At that time, all I could think about was how I was unable to support my family, that my career was over and that the only way out was suicide.”

Sculthorpe found help after opening up about his feelings to his parents and through support from the Rugby Football League. He now works for the State of Mind charity, which established a partnership with the game after it was rocked by the death of Wigan and Great Britain hooker Terry Newton in 2010.

Their resounding message is: “We are all one big team.” So true!

5. Professor Tim Kendall, National Director for Mental Health, NHS England presented the 5 year forward view. He appeared rushed, ill-prepared and unempathetic to a room half full of people whose children had died.  Considering he was the most powerful person in the room, he was most disappointing.

6. Counsellor Richard Kemp has been a member of Liverpool City Council for 30 years. He is passionate about providing good housing, community centres and parks for the well-being of people. Ironically he also seemed to think the suicide was a relatively small problem. Interestingly he got this insight from a  psychiatrist. However, I strongly agreed with this statement he made – “We need fewer guidelines and more vision.”
We can’t have a speaker from Liverpool who doesn’t mention the Beatles – All the lonely people, Eleanor  Rigby, Father McKenzie… This song was well used to speak about the widespread problem of loneliness.

7. Panel discussion at the end had representatives from – Public Health England, Champs, Grassroots and Mental Health Foundation. They discussed finding the ‘seat-belt’ of Suicide. May be there isn’t one. We should work with the information we have in addition to continually looking for stronger evidence. It is important to identify protective factors and talk about them too. Policy makers need to embed these into schools and colleges. Staff must be educated to enable them to spot the warning signs of suicide in a young person and to keep them safe.

Overall, it was clear that the conversation is changing, even though  there is plenty of dead-wood around. It is apparent that the motivational level of charities is much higher than the government. There are big questions about the funding of government plans. GP training is still something that is not being addressed as it should be. Somehow there is a level of denial around it, even when it is clear to many of us as an area that needs serious attention.

The drivers of these changing conversations and policies should be survivors of suicide and those bereaved by it. Lived experience is an invaluable source of a wealth of information on the lessons that can be learnt and the changes that are required.

Ref: http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2015-07-24/the-only-way-out-was-suicide-former-rugby-star-speaks-out-about-case-over-sacking/

Day 836

The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) is an alliance of public, private and voluntary organisations in England who care about suicide prevention and are willing to take individual and collective action to reduce suicide and support those bereaved or affected by suicide. (http://www.nspa.org.uk/)

Today I attended a conference organised by them. The room was filled with people who care. Here are some of the highlights as seen from my eyes:

  1. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health sent his apologies and a recorded message that said all the right things, unconvincingly. (Yes. I am a cynic.)
  2. Professor Louis Appleby (Professor of Psychiatry, University of Manchester. Chair, National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group. Department of Health) talked about National Strategy and emphasised that every component of the strategy has to line up in order to impact everyday lives of people. The 5 main points on the strategy were: Local Suicide Prevention plans a must for all Local councils; a sound policy on self-harm; special attention to middle aged men, mental health patients and prisoners, better data collection and bereavement support.

He proposed that if the data was looked at differently, it could mean that the suicide rates were on a decline. Hence, the rising rate of suicide argument may not work. However, we know that suicides are grossly under-reported. So, this statement reminded me that at the end of the day he is an academic and while he does brilliant work, part of his job is playing with numbers.

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(Statistics are used by some as something to lean on rather than to illuminate.)

  1. Rt. Honorable Norman Lamb MP for North Norfolk was the speaker with most conviction and the biggest vision. I am so proud that he is the Patron of the charity I work with, PAPYRUS. He spoke of leadership, immediate investigation of deaths so valuable lessons can be learnt before the facts get fudged and forgotten, GP training and same day referrals of patients with depression to specialist services, stop sending patients out of the area for in-patient care and provide meaningful patient support in the community. He set out a clear ambition of – Zero Suicide. He was the only one in the room who stated:  “Death toll from suicide is intolerably high.”  There is hope.

To be continued tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 835

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The sensitive ones feel deeply, love deeply, hurt deeply. In this hard world, they are forced to grow an armour of steel but inside they are soft and bruise easily. They suffer not only their own angst but also the pain of everyone around them, especially those they love.

They make good mimics and actors because they can literally put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is their keen observation and empathy that enables them to imitate others accents and actions to perfection.

They make good musicians because their ears and brains are superbly tuned to their heart-strings and they can truly feel the music.

They make good friends as they are loyal, honest and true. Simple things mean a lot to them. Their purity and simplicity make them adorable.

Their sensitivity is the source of their passion and compassion, creativity and a deep appreciation of the small things in life, keen awareness and a vivid inner life.

They suffer deeply when betrayed, rejected or devalued. They fret over misunderstandings and unresolved issues.

All they want is to love and be loved.

The world needs more sensitive people but sadly, hasn’t learnt to value them enough.

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Day 834

Zombified, after 10 hours of intense work, I walk to the station. Someone stops me and tells me something about a special offer of a makeover, a photo shoot or something like that for any day within the next 6 months. I can’t fully comprehend it. It’s not the kind of thing I would normally sign up for but I am too tired to think and it sounds like fun.

A few days later I mention it to Si. He’s not at all sure about it. He wants to know more. I can’t give him any more details as I actually don’t know exactly what I have signed up to and partially paid for. We mark the date in our diaries, he much more reluctantly than me. Then a business trip comes up and it has to be postponed. The same thing happens again. Then I loose the vouchers. They say, that’s enough. It’s off. Thank God! A few days later, a call to say they have thought about it and they would like us to come for it anyway.

Today’s the day. Si and I find ourselves frantically sorting through clothes and shoes while gobbling down tea and toast this morning. We load up the car and rush into town only to find major road closures to make space for a Charity 10K run. A long diversion later we get there 40 minutes late but to our dismay they can slot us in an hour later. That hour is well spent in a cozy café nearby having jasmine tea and Halloumi salad, recovering from the long, slow drive through the narrow streets of London.

Warm welcome. Comfy furniture. Brightly lit. Spacious. Chilled out. Chatty, friendly people. Creative calm space. A few changes of clothes. A lot of laughs. Sharing travel stories. Smiles. Hugs. Cups of tea. Reflectors. Flashes. The shh-shh of the shutter. Strangely decorated rooms. Fancy backdrops. Luxurious sofas. Complements. Fun. Si loved it. Phew!

Trying out something new together. Highly recommended.

Day 833

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According to Vedic science, there are 7 centers of energy in our body, called Chakras. The Heart Chakra sits in the centre of the chest at the confluence of physical and spiritual energies. In Sanskrit, it is called ‘Anahata’ which means ‘unstuck’ or ‘unhurt’. It implies that underneath the pain of past experiences lies a pure and spiritual place where no hurt exists. It is the seat of healing.

The heart chakra is home to 3 things: Love, Hate and Fear. If divine unconditional Love resides there, then there is no place for Hate or Fear. Similarly, if it is consumed by Hate, there is no room for Love or Fear. If Fear dominates, then neither Love nor Hate can thrive. There are examples of all these scenarios around us.

All over the world, Fear and Hate are being driven into people’s hearts mainly by the way things are interpreted and reported in the mainstream media. Nations are choosing their leaders and their futures based on Fear and Hate. There is no place for Love. Is this the world of our dreams? Is this our vision for our future generations?

When the heart chakra is open, we are flowing with love and compassion, we are quick to forgive, and we accept others and ourselves as we are. A closed heart chakra can give way to grief, anger, jealousy, fear of betrayal, and hatred toward yourself and others.

Sometimes it is easier to remain in a state of suffering than to choose to be happy. Vedic sciences say that as the energies rise upwards through the chakras, we approach a state of awareness and bliss. The downward movement of energies causes inertia and stagnation.

Today I met a healer who introduced me to the concept of ‘loving your guilt away’. She said, ‘Have as much love and compassion for yourself as you have for others. Open your Heart Chakra.’

Ref: http://www.chopra.com/articles/open-yourself-to-love-with-the-fourth-chakra

 

 

 

Day 832

The hospital where we went when he was ill is just down the road from where we live. It is 18 minutes by bus, 10 minutes but car on a quiet day. The Emergency department is on the left. The Mental hospital is on the right. There is a visitor’s car park in front of the Mental hospital. That is where we parked the car. That is where we waited for a couple of hours to be seen by a psychiatrist. That is where I had to make my own way that day because Saagar refused to have me in the car with him and his father. That is where he should have been when he was severely ill a few weeks later. That is where he could have been saved.

That is where I went this afternoon to watch a play called ‘Hearing Things’, a play co-produced by patients and professionals, based on insights derived from 6 weeks of workshops involving actors and people with a mental illness, offering both an opportunity for expression, transformation and co-creation. Through a cast of 3, we met people of different races and age groups. It was about challenging assumptions. It was about the empathy and personalities of patients. It was about ‘the system’ and the dynamics within it, mental well being of health care providers and role-reversal. It was about giving people a chance.

“I am off now to be mad and I don’t have to be sectioned for it”, remarked one of the participants as drama gave him the freedom to be who he is, without fear of judgment. It was about the possibility of being ‘re-assembled’. It was powerful and moving. It did not mince words. I spoke loud and clear. It was accessible, funny, clever and heart-breaking.

One young person describes his experience of drama:

“…after you do the drama you get this feeling…it feels as if whatever was bothering you went away and you feel light and can do whatever you want around you, it makes the day simpler and you can concentrate on your activities, it makes you feel better, like at the end of the day when you come home from work tired and you want to put your feet up, you don’t feel guilty relaxing as you have done a hard days work. I wanted to understand the person and put myself in their shoes.  At the end of it I felt good.  150% happy!”  

 It was about creating a new paradigm of relating to people suffering with mental illness.  It was all heart.

Ref:

http://playingon.org.uk/hearing-things-2016-2017/

Day 831

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(Saagar playing Widow Twanky in Aladdin at Durham, Christmas 2012)

Recently a young man taught me how to save pictures from Facebook. I went to Saagar’s page and found a huge treasure! Smiles, fancy dress parties, gigs, hanging out with friends, pulling faces, playing the clown, doing a ‘Usain Bolt’, being on stage …

Memories warm me up from the inside but they also tear me apart. Sometimes they sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.

They flood my mind with the light of a thousand bright stars.

A million memories. Countless thoughts. One person. One love.

Love you and miss you my delightful, beautiful boy!!!

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(Comment: ‘Why can’t I stop myself from doing this at parties?’)