Jeff tackling suicide issue

Jeff Jeffery and Sue Yoxall. Photo: SG041011-235NG
Jeff Jeffery and Sue Yoxall. Photo: SG041011-235NG

IT’S A subject most of of us shy away from and those with suicidal thoughts appear to be very good at hiding their feelings, even from close family and friends.

In Lincolnshire alone, there are approximately 50 suicides each year, each one leaving those close to them feeling guilty that they didn’t spot the signs and prevent it.

Now Jeff Jeffery, who is trained in suicide intervention, wants to create what he calls a “suicide-safe community” in South Holland, one in which everyone is aware of suicide.

“If we are aware, we can intervene,” says Jeff, of Meadowgate Lane, Spalding.

“Suicide doesn’t know boundaries between the weak and the strong.

“We are all prone to problems of everyday life and if there has been a suicide in a family there is a high risk that someone else is vulnerable because of guilt.”

Jeff volunteers for the NHS for the Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust as an Asist team member – or Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training – as well as being a Reiki master and spiritual healer at Fenchantment, Pinchbeck.

He says it was his work as a complementary therapist that led him to train with Asist.

“Depression and suicide always arose so I got involved because I needed to be able to deal with issues on a professional basis,” he says.

“Basically, I am a first aider but I am also a tutor. I train people in interception.”

Life in the 21st century is the reason so many people struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, according to Jeff, who blames loneliness, debt, relationship break-ups, unemployment and bullying.

He says returning servicemen and women, the elderly and young people are particularly at risk.

“If you are talking about who is at risk, it’s everybody,” said Jeff.

“Family, friends and work colleagues are all impacted and invariably someone takes on feelings of guilt that they didn’t recognise the signs.

“Because I work as a tutor I thought it would be a good idea if I went to every factory and suggest they have people trained,

“We would like a suicide-safe community.”

Jeff says people in Lincolnshire are able to access two levels of training and, unusually, it is offered free to people living within the county whereas elsewhere it is a paid-for service.

The first level of training is Safe Talk, a three-and-a-half hour presentation on suicide awareness for businesses, individuals and volunteers.

The second training session is Asist, a two-day course in suicide intervention to become a suicide first aider.

Jeff explains: “If you pick someone up in the street you would get a paramedic. With suicide you get us, an Asist trained person, or a suicide first aider.”

With training, Jeff says it’s easier to spot when someone is feeling suicidal and talk to them, before accessing a database of Asist-trained people who can help.

Unlike a visit to the doctor’s surgery, which might result in tablets and possibly a long wait to see a psychologist, people can get immediate help with Asist.

The help takes the form of counselling.

Jeff explains: “We listen to people’s reasons for dying and instead find reasons for living and they are then in fear of losing that reason for living.

“You have given them hope.”

The Asist-trained person will ensure that someone – a family member, doctor or health care worker – is put in contact with their patient, who is also given a telephone number to call if suicidal thoughts should return.

Courses are available at a number of venues in the county, including Johnson Hospital in Spalding.

n For course information contact Sue Broadbent on 01529 416251/01529 416267 or email sue.broadbent@lpft.nhs.uk