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World Mental Health Day 2019: West London NHS Trust’s crisis helpline - suicide prevention case study

10 Oct 2019

Thursday 10 October 2019 is World Mental Health Day – this year’s theme is suicide prevention. To mark it, we spoke to one of our mental health advisors at our 24-hour helpline, Shushila Ganger, who explains how she prevented a young man from suicide and provides guidance to those who find themselves in a similar situation.

Shushila was about to go on her lunch break when she received a life-changing phone call. A young man had recently lost his wife and felt he couldn’t live without her. At the start of the call, he was in his car, had completed an unsent text to his sister and about to walk towards a bridge where he planned to jump.

In a situation like this, Shushila remains calm and asks as many questions as possible, trying to connect with him and help understand why this young man felt the way he did. She didn’t have much information about him as he wasn’t known to the Trust. She asked questions, allowing him to open up about his life and events that led up to the call.

She did this to give the young man some more time to consider his decision and realise the impact it could have on his family and friends. While doing so, Shushila is writing a live report to her senior colleague about the situation, describing what she is hearing in great detail so they are able to call the police to the scene.

This particular conversation lasted 40 minutes, which is typical for a call of this kind. Unfortunately, cases such as this occur because some see it as the only way to get out of their immediate dark situation. Encouraging others to talk about their mental health can reduce its stigma significantly.

Thankfully the young man decided against ending his life. This is largely down to the crucial minutes in which mental health advisors like Shushila work to build a rapport with the person on the end of the line, listening and talking to them, trying to keep them at ease, allowing them to express themselves and feel that they are being heard.

Unfortunately, cases like this young man aren’t isolated. Shushila says calls such as these come into the Trust’s 24/7 helpline almost on a daily basis. They come mainly from young men in their 20s and 30s who feel their lives are no longer worth living. Statistics show that suicide is the biggest killer among men aged 45 and under.

When putting down the phone to this young man after he had been helped to safety, Shushila says that she’s “just doing my job.”

West London NHS Trust is a proud member of Zero Suicide Alliance which enables people to spend just 20 minutes of their time to take part in suicide prevention training. To learn more about this, click here: https://www.zerosuicidealliance.com/training/

If you, or someone you know, are based in West London and need urgent help around mental health, our helpline is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 0300 1234 244 today.