Suicide awareness training for stewards

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2019 National Delegate Conference
25 February 2019

With the appointment by the government of a minister who is tasked with reducing suicide rates nationally, the need for all stewards to be trained in suicide awareness has never been clearer. Suicide is everyone’s business and touches families whatever their class, age, gender or family situation. Last year nationally 6,213 people completed suicide and the highest suicide rate was among males between the ages of 45-49, though there has been an increase in males between the ages of 25-34 in 2018 (Samaritans’ Suicide Statistics Report, 2018). We need to make sure all our stewards are aware of not only risk groups but how to signpost anyone they come into contact that might be having suicidal thoughts or at risk from suicide. We can empower our stewards to be able to support their members in accessing the correct support in a timely manner. We know from research that 3 out of 5 people have experienced mental health issues due to work (Samaritans’ Wellbeing in the City report, 2018), and work place stress is associated with significantly increased suicide risk (Schneider et al., 2011; Milner et al., 2017). As union representatives we will be dealing with many members who are experiencing pressure and stress caused by their working situation. Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. Early identification of suicidal thoughts and behaviour, and effective care for those at risk, are crucial in reducing the likelihood that an individual makes a suicide attempt or dies by suicide. We are not expecting our stewards to be experts, but we also know that they can be at the sharp end of members’ distress and giving them the correct tools to work with is key for them to feel confident but also be able to support members effectively.

Conference requests the National Executive Council to consider a short programme of training in suicide awareness, to be implemented nationally to empower our stewards with knowledge and the skills to identify and signpost members appropriately and effectively.

Conference believes this training will support our stewards in signposting our members to seek the best advice which could be potentially life-saving.This will also enable our stewards when reviewing policies and procedures within their own working environments to enable them to access this against risk of suicide.