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Small Talk Saves Lives


13 December 2017

Small Talk Saves Lives

 The NHS is ready to help anyone who is at risk of suicide.

Anyone who is concerned about themselves or about another person should call our Single Point of Access, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and NHS staff will listen to you and help; call them on 0800 0234 650.

The NHS Outreach Team is here to assist they can be called on 020 8962 4393 (from 10am to 8pm).

We have noted and share the concerns of Councillor Mary Weale, spoken at the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 5 December; she said, "As Christmas approaches we have to be particularly concerned about suicide risks. Suicide prevention is not only about making sure people have access to the right services, but effectively identifying those at risk and focusing on them. We are here to listen, we are here to improve and we will do whatever we can to make sure no-one slips through the cracks and everyone gets the help they need."

You should seek help if you notice the following in you or someone you know (watching out for family members, neighbours and friends):

  • Changes in behaviour

  • Withdrawal

  • Appearing preoccupied or worried

  • Changes in sleep patterns

  • Saying worrying things

We repeat: anyone who is concerned about themselves or about another person should call our Single Point of Access for help on 0800 0234 650.

We're also working with Journey of Hope, ( ) who are building up a network of people - 89 last month - about resilience, and as extra eyes and ears to help the community.

The Samaritans have produced a really useful 90 second film about people on the Tube thinking of ending their lives; it powerfully shows how ‘small talk saves lives', by disrupting the thinking of those at risk.

Watching over people you're worried about can provide vital time to raise the alarm by calling the NHS.

If you feel ready to face it, you can view the film here:

Mersey Care NHS Trust have produced something that takes a little longer - about 20 minutes - but offers sensible training about what to say and how to listen to people (it can be viewed on laptops or phones; it's free and only requires an email address):

Our Trust, CNWL, has commissioned an evidenced-based training programme, Connecting with People.

Key points gained from this training include:

  • It is important to ask the question about whether someone is having thoughts of ending their life (this is counter-intuitive; the evidence says you are not putting an idea in someone's head but recognising the seriousness of the place they are in)

  • Suicidal thoughts are often fleeting and people change their mind once the severe suicidal impulse has passed.

  • People need to know when and where to seek the appropriate professional support

  • A few minutes of time can save a life.

Case examples provided in the training illustrate the importance of instilling hope and that each of us can personally contribute to suicide prevention.

The Community has already faced an enormous amount of hurt and pain; but it has also responded with compassion for each other, through the volunteers, the community groups, the churches and faith organisations, and gatherings everywhere - this is the real spirit of Grenfell.

You can rely on the NHS but this emotional first aid provides time for help to arrive.

Please pass this information along.

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Stephenson House, 75 Hampstead Road, London NW1 2PL
Tel: 020 3214 5756 e-mail: