I was dreading reading the papers last Sunday if I am honest and I have sat on this blog for a week…….Headlines about call centre staff getting a leaflet on now to deal with people on the phone threatening suicide. It would appear the authorities are very worried about what people might do when their benefits are cut.
The reaction from staff in call centres is naturally one of major concern about their ability to cope with very vulnerable people and how they themselves would feel after it.
No pink laminated card and another 3 people listening is going to help resolve that situation.
The first time I cam across suicide was as a young teacher. A senior pupil arrived at my classroom having taken an overdose and had attempted to slash her wrists. I went into a kind of automatic pilot getting her into a room, alerting the DHT and ambulances were called.
She was the most beautiful girl who was talented and quirky and I knew her parents. What I had missed was that she was self harming. She was struggling with teenage issues but just couldn’t see a way out.
I remember coming back to my class and then sitting down and asking myself what had happened and feeling so confused and angry at myself that I had not spotted it. I walked to the class next door and the teacher took one look at me and said “right hen, tea with sugar and home”
I did go back to my flat, then called my mum.She prescribed more tea and came up on the next train to the city to dispense mammy hobbit advice.
My PT was very good at making sure I was ok but no one else talked about it. A bit like the knickers tucked in your skirt,people know it is there but don’t really know what to say.
I brought this story up to my PGDE students last year and a fellow tutor said but come on it’s not like that is normal and it certainly would not have happened on my school.
I thought that about the school I was in too.
I was then sent on some training some time later as part of my soup kitchen training and it was suicide awareness training. A most harrowing and intense set of sessions but I am thankful every day that I did them.
Not only has to heed me to deal with people on the soup kitchen but also students and friends as well.
Seeing young people in school getting to the point where they cannot see a way to cope or to communicate involves some tough talking and tackling the issue head on without causing fear and alarm. The amount of young people I have worked with who were under pressure and influenced by social media and teetering on the verge of suicide has not been a great number but you can see the young people who are in danger of walking on that path.
I remember one man who told me he had had enough of life and was going to jump to end his life. “And don’t bother with any of your help hen, I used to be you. I worked with the homeless all my days and I know the drill, but I lost my wife, met the booze and I’m heartbroken.”
He wasn’t the only one who was heartbroken.
We had another situation where one of the service users was slipping into a dark place and we could see him beginning to be engulfed in stress and depression,Christmas time and he had no money. A chance conversation with a good friend and an envelope was produced.
The following week he gave me a letter and in it was the note he was going to leave when he committed suicide.
But he didn’t.
His benefits had been cut for some stupid reason and he had received nothing for 8 weeks. He had a young child. He was so upset that it looked like he couldn’t even get him a present coupled with other issues, he felt his only way out was suicide.
How many people are we going to see taking their own lives because they can’t see a way out of the poverty they have been forced into? How many other young people are going to look at suicide as an option because they don’t have someone they feel they can talk to?
But it would appear a laminated pink sheet is going to solve all that?
The people orchestrating this nonsense need to get a grip.As for the politicians? Let them live without their salary, their comforts, their perks and see how they feel.How they can sleep at night I’ll never know.