Mind Cymru suicide counselling Asist project hailed as success

Woman on bed
Image caption The skills training is for those who deal with people having thoughts of self ham

A mental health charity has hailed as a success its £1m lottery-funded scheme to train suicide counsellors.

More than 2,200 people have taken part in skills sessions run by Mind Cymru and paid for by the Big Lottery fund.

Almost three-quarters - more than 1,500 people - say they have already used their new skills to help someone.

A Public Health Wales survey will be launched in Cardiff later on Monday aimed at reducing suicide and self-harm.

The event at Cardiff City Stadium will highlight how lottery funds are being used to provide suicide intervention training via a five-year project run by Mind Cymru.

Since 2009, the mental health charity has run Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (Asist) courses to people working in health, social care or the voluntary sector.

The Public Health Wales (PHW) report found nearly 70% of those who attended the workshops reported that they had not previously had any suicide intervention training.

'Everybody's business'

In a study of those who completed the training, the PHW report found 96% said it was more likely they would ask someone directly if they were thinking of suicide.

73% of them said they had already used the training to help someone, while 8% - more than 170 people - had used the intervention more than 20 times since their training.

Participants also reported that the fear and taboo from the word suicide had gone.

Sian Howells, senior counsellor for Neath Port Talbot College, said the Asist training had led to the service's referral forms for troubled students being adapted to include a direct question related to suicide.

She said: "I find that I am able to take off my counselling hat and apply suicide first aid in the same way that first aid is applied in other crisis situations.

"As a result of undergoing the training, I feel more confident working with suicidal young people and feel reassured that I am working with an evidence-based model that is clear and structured."

Alan Briscoe, Mind Cymru's Positive Choices project manager, welcomed the news that people felt more confident in raising the issue of suicide with those at risk.

"We hope it will encourage more people to train so that we can get these skills out into communities and workplaces," he said.

"Suicide really is everybody's business because so many people have been affected in some way."

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