A Bristol-based mental health charity that specialises in suicide prevention saw a 300 per cent increase in calls to its helpline in 2020 from struggling individuals.
According to Bristol City Council’s statistics (2018), an average of 47 people takes their own life every year in Bristol. This number is 28 per cent higher than the national average.
As the mental health crisis in Bristol, and the UK, has continued to worsen during the pandemic, the charity continues to station trained volunteers to patrol on Bristol’s streets to look out for and support those that are contemplating suicide.
One volunteer, who dedicates her weekends to this cause, explains the severity of their work, in which they must stop people from doing fatal harm to themselves.
From overcoming her struggle with suicidal thoughts previously, the volunteer states this is proof that there is hope, “even [in] the darkest moments.”
During the week, volunteers in groups of three or four patrol the streets in branded cars and uniforms to offer their support for anyone struggling with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts. All volunteers go through specialist training, which is funded by donations given to the charity.
Firstly, they look for people who are by themselves and look vulnerable. Some are happy to engage, and some aren’t.
If they find someone who looks like they need support, the volunteers establish whether there is an immediate risk of danger. They assess if the individual displays signs of substance abuse or self-harm, then call the emergency services if required.
Most individuals want someone to talk with and will open to the volunteers quite quickly.
Some volunteers have built relationships with struggling individuals, they see regularly, who are not receiving the help they need. After conversing, the volunteers signpost the individuals to organisations and then together, they come up with a plan to get them the help they need.
Mental health and suicidal thoughts have increased drastically as a result of coronavirus and its related restrictions. If you or a loved one is struggling, please consider reaching out for support.
We understand how this difficult time can harm people’s mental wellbeing. To find out more about our Personalised Care and Support Services, contact us today.
At Synergy Complex Care we specialise in providing high-quality home care for adults and children with Mental Health and other complex conditions.
(All of our staff receive weekly Covid-19 testing and are trained to use personal protective equipment effectively)