Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Creating change

September 05 2018
Our Action Day proposal looks set to change the ways homeless services talk about suicide.

Our Action Day proposal looks set to change the ways homeless services talk about suicide.

Following the Pavement’s special issue on suicide, written by a team of writers on the 2018 From The Ground Up (FTGU) project run by the Pavement and Groundswell, a Suicide Action Day was held in March at Groundswell.

Findings were presented about the suicide epidemic affecting those experiencing homelessness. After listening to a special FTGU podcast, there were also workshops run by Homeless Link and the Listening Place designed for homeless and mental health service workers to encourage discussion about suicide and homelessness. Insights were gathered from three focus groups looking at ways to communicate suicide in homeless services. These found:

• Suicide is still a taboo subject in homeless services
• Staff are ill-equipped to respond to and communicate suicide
• Marking a death encourages understanding and offers opportunities for grief.

Participants also discussed how knowing what to do, or how to respond, can be difficult after the death of a resident, so training helps staff to prepare. In the event of a suicide, having clear procedures to follow may also provide comfort and assistance to staff and residents who may be in shock.

Following up the Action Day, Groundswell developed guidance materials with the help of suicide prevention service, the Listening Place. The new leaflet, due out in August, is called Talking About Suicide: a guide for frontline staff. It aims to give staff working in homelessness services some guidance on how best to engage people who have suicidal thoughts and feelings.