SP-ARK’ed Suicide Prevention – Awareness, Resource, Knowledge e-delivery. An introduction to PAPYRUS and Suicide Prevention

The key objectives were:

  • To raise awareness of Suicide and Suicide Prevention
  • To provide information about PAPYRUS – Prevention of Young Suicide
  • To develop Hope and encourage action for a suicide safer community
  • To understand the importance of self-care.

On Wednesday 2nd December 2020, Papyrus, in conjunction with Redbridge Faith Forum, held a Zoom internet meeting to highlight the concerning rise in the rate of suicide amongst young people and to explain the confidential services that Papyrus can offer. The number of people attending was limited due to safeguarding. This meeting was a precursor for a sign-posting training session that will be organised with Papyrus in the early part of 2021.

It was very disturbing to learn how prevalent suicidal thoughts and the act itself is amongst the youngest members of our community. But, on a more positive side, it was reassuring to learn about the work Papyrus is doing in the UK to support young people and how we too can play our part in supporting young people in our own communities  with the focused and specialised  training that Papyrus can provide. The meeting generated a lot of interest by the participants and several questions were asked at the end of the presentation.  

Papyrus  began in Warrington 23 years ago by a parent who lost her child to suicide. There were no services at the time that specialized in supporting children, youth and young people under 35 who had suicidal thoughts.

Papyrus is now a nationwide Suicide Prevention Charitable Organization that children, youth, young people, and their families, friends or carers can contact anonymously through a phone helpline and get support either for themselves or for someone they are concerned about.  

The figures regarding people committing suicide in general are stark and sadly rising.

  • In the UK, in 2018 there were 6,507 recorded suicides . 
  • Sadly 1,866 of that figure were young people under the age of 35.
  • There are approximately 200 school age children who commit suicide every year.
  • Suicide is at the moment the biggest non-medical killer of young people.
  • It is thought these figures do not even show the true extent, as many more deaths are not recorded as suicide but as ‘death by misadventure’ . 
  • One in four adults have contemplated suicide.
  • And for every 1 death by suicide there has been 22 attempted suicides.

Some of the problems that lead children and young people to suicide can be persistent bullying, which leads to low self confidence and low self-esteem, either at school, in the workplace, or online social media sites; housing issues; family problems; sexual abuse. It is unbelievable but a fact that some websites actively seek young people out to encourage them to commit suicide as the only way out of their situation or problem. These websites romanticize suicide and sadly children and young people are easy prey.

The signs that someone is thinking of taking their own life are not easy to spot but the training that Papyrus offers will help identify some of the common signs to look out for and will help us to reach out to vulnerable young people with the sort of conversations that are meaningful, that give hope to the young person, and show them that someone is interested in helping them, listening to them, and care about them and their situation.

The main aim of Papyrus is to offer support through their helplines, and also through social media sites as that is where the majority of young people spend their social time; Papyrus seek to equip young people with suicide prevention skills in schools, colleges and workplaces and they also offer training facilities for local councils, organisations and healthcare specialists ; their third aim is to lobby and influence government to create social policies that incorporate suicide prevention strategies and will also monitor social media sites more strictly.

Papyrus’ helpline number is called HOPELINE UK.   The number is 0800 068 4141. 

The phones are all manned by trained professionals in suicide prevention in children and young people. All calls are treated in the utmost confidence and callers can remain anonymous if they wish.

At present the helpline is open from 9am –midnight. They are planning to extend it to a 24 hour service in the future as funds become available.

Papyrus offer a variety of training workshops from their basic 90 minute SPOT sessions aimed at promoting suicide awareness, the signs to look for and how to signpost young people to organisations that can offer valuable help; to their half day  SPEAK courses which focus on the types of conversations you can have with vulnerable young people; and then their two day ASSIST courses which are suicide first aid courses aimed at giving the participants real life skills that can help prevent suicidal thoughts and acts in young people.

Redbridge Faith Forum together with Papyrus is aiming to offer the basic SPOT course to interested members of the Faith Forum community in the early part of 2021. Further details will be made available in due course but if you wish to express an interest in advance in participating in this worthy workshop  please contact SAIRA or KAREN at faith.forum@redbridge.gov.uk

If you wish to read a little more about Papyrus and their valuable work visit their website.