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Workshop to discuss setting up a suicide crisis centre in Danny's memory
03/05/2019

​A workshop will take place in Lowestoft later this month to explore the possibility of setting up a “suicide crisis centre” in the town.

The workshop will be run jointly by Sue Willgoss, whose son Danny lost his battle with mental ill health in June last year, aged 25, and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

The half-day event on Thursday, 23 May at OrbisEnergy in Wilde Street will include a presentation by Joy Hibbins, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the charity Suicide Crisis. She is a survivor of suicidal crisis and the author of a book published last year called “Suicide Prevention Techniques: How a Suicide Crisis Service Saves Lives”, which Sue has read and which inspired her to contact Ms Hibbins.

Suicide Crisis runs two “Suicide Crisis Centres” which offer a safe place to support and help people through a crisis. Since Danny’s death, Mrs Willgoss has been working tirelessly to ensure that when a person is suicidal, they have somewhere they can go to seek comfort and support. She set up #LiftLoudForDanny in memory of her son, a gym owner and much-loved powerlifter. She wants to:

• raise awareness of mental health difficulties
• improve outcomes for people with mental health difficulties and their families and carers
• improve crisis support and response
• improve access to services for people with mental health difficulties
• improve access to appropriate support and adapted interventions/therapies for people on the autism spectrum who have mental health difficulties.

Mrs Willgoss said: “We see so many people in crisis who fail to get the right support at the time when they need it most. Then there is the issue of adequate follow-up care immediately after discharge and the following weeks.

“There is no crisis line for support in Waveney, nowhere for people to go and the result is that people may spend the night in an A&E department or a police cell. Those are not suitable places for those in mental health crisis.”

Mrs Willgoss said she was concerned about high rates of mental health difficulties and suicide in people with autism. She is involved in running weekly support groups for people experiencing difficulties and their carers, which offer relaxation sessions, mindfulness, information and signposting.

The workshop on 23 May will be attended by staff from NSFT, by service users and carers and by representatives of clinical commissioning groups, the ambulance service and Norfolk and Suffolk police. Organisations taking part are welcome to have an information stall.

Liz Howlett, NSFT’s Suicide Reduction Plan Implementation Lead, said: “Our Trust last year joined the Zero Suicide Alliance [ZSA], a national campaign which supports the ambition of creating a world where suicide does not exist.

“We’re approaching the workshop as an opportunity to learn from a successful initiative in another part of the country and to work with partners, including third sector organisations, to see if a suicide crisis centre could be established in Lowestoft.

“The statistics show that many people who take their own life will not have tried to access mental health support so we know that if we’re going to achieve our aim of zero suicides, it’s not something we can do on our own – we need to work with many others.”

After the workshop, Mrs Willgoss plans to establish a small working group of those who can support her work in establishing a suicide crisis centre in Waveney.

Ms Hibbins, who was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s most recent New Year Honours list for services to vulnerable people, will talk about the Suicide Crisis Centres, their methods, approach and ethos.

“It was my own experience of suicidal crisis and being unable to find the right kind of help which led to the setting up of a Suicide Crisis Centre in Gloucestershire,” she said. “We have now been providing services for six years and have never had a suicide of a client under our care. That has led to our work gaining national attention.

“I will explain what we’re doing that’s different from other services, and why this ensures that our clients survive. It would be wonderful if one of our Suicide Crisis Centres could be replicated in Waveney.

“There is a massive need for an alternative to mental health services. An important aspect of our Suicide Crisis Centres is that they are reaching people who are off the radar of other services – people who are least likely to seek help from anyone.

“Our charity provides two Suicide Crisis Centres, home visits and emergency phone lines for our clients and this wraps a ‘safety net’ around them, minimising the gaps which they could fall through. We also run a separate Trauma Centre and this is about early intervention: supporting people to help prevent them from going into crisis.

“We look forward to working with Sue and her colleagues at the workshop and we will do all we can to help them set up a Suicide Crisis Centre in the region.”

In December last year, NSFT, #LiftLoudForDanny and Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing arranged an evening event at the Mammoth Power Gym in Whapload Road, Lowestoft, which had been owned by Danny. Held in his memory, the evening aimed to give men a better understanding of wellbeing issues, as well as advice on self-help, coping strategies and local sources of support.

Anyone who feels they need help with their wellbeing should make an appointment with their GP or contact Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney, which provides support for common mental health and emotional issues such as low mood, stress and depression.

For more information or to self-refer, visit www.wellbeingnands.co.uk or call 0300 123 1503.

Caption: Liz Howlett, NSFT’s Suicide Reduction Plan Implementation Lead

For press enquiries, email: nsft.communications@nsft.nhs.uk