A group of volunteers with direct experience of the impact of suicide have bravely opened up to share their insight and thoughts on good practice within mental health services in West Yorkshire. 036.jpg

The group - featuring people who have been suicidal themselves, bereaved by suicide or supported someone else facing mental health challenges - have created a film where they speak directly to health and care staff about their experiences of secondary mental health services.

Released today, ‘Preventing suicide: communication, support and follow-up’ highlights positive practice in suicide prevention and aims to help make the mental health system in West Yorkshire operate in the best way possible for people and families.

The work is part of a ‘coproduction’ project commissioned by West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WY HCP)’s Suicide Prevention Programme and led by Leeds Mind, to bring the voice of lived experience into suicide prevention decision-making and planning.

Lasting around nine minutes in total, the film addresses key issues of communication, support and the importance of effective follow ups. Three shorter films have also been created which break each of these themes down into bitesize videos.

The film is being shared with clinical staff at Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust and Bradford District Care Trust as part of a planned programme of learning and more widely across the health and care landscape, to aid staff development and understanding of any opportunities to improve services and minimise risk. 

Jess Parker, WY HCP’s Suicide Prevention Programme manager, said: “We are relentlessly ambitious in our desire to enable people who have been suicidal, or those who have been bereaved by suicide, to lead decisions and planning and be a force for positive change in suicide prevention. They know best.

“This film was entirely the idea and creation of people with lived experience who I would like to thank for their honesty and bravery in sharing their experiences.

“It aims to reinforce good practice and skills in suicide prevention within mental health support.

“We feel it is relevant to anyone who works in health and care and would urge all to watch and listen.” 019.jpg

One of the volunteers Alyson Daley said being involved in this project has helped her and others "feel heard and seen".

She said: "This experience has been liberating and empowering, which you may feel are unusual words to use when discussing this topic.

"Yet, what we are doing is helping people to feel heard and seen.

"I know personally I feel I have found my voice by being given one through this project.

"Through utilising lived life experiences, you gain real and raw insight into the struggles and stigma surrounding mental health challenges; with the real aims of changing systems and procedures in the mental health arena. 

"This is why it is so important to involve us experts by lived experience and believe it is the way forward.

"This project has given the voice to so many that have been silenced, ones who can make a difference with partnerships such as these."

Arlie Haslam, co-ordinator for the suicide prevention co-production project at Leeds Mind, said: "These films are about providing care and support based not on what we think people want and need, but based on what they're telling us they want and need.

“This is an approach we take with all our mental health support at Leeds Mind. But what's great about what the lived experience volunteers have designed here is, it seeks to raise awareness and change practice.

“Our volunteers have been brave and generous enough to share their lived experience - we hope the local health and care community in West Yorkshire listens and takes positive action."

The films have been created in partnership with Jonathan Parker at Creative Frame CIC and Men’s Talk (Community Links Kirklees).