Suicide prevention is an important topic that requires everyone’s attention. In 2018 alone, 1,866 young people under the age of 35 took their own lives, with suicide acknowledged as the main cause of death in young people in the UK. The main challenge is how do we spot the signs, approach the conversation and provide the appropriate support to those affected by suicidal thoughts or tendencies. This is where PAPRUS’s SP-OT training course comes in.

SP-OT training is an intensive 90-minute session that provides individuals with information and skills to recognise the warning signs of suicide and how to address the conversation effectively. The course is designed to be beneficial for everyone, from healthcare professionals, teachers, parents, students, and anyone who wants to support those affected by suicidal thoughts.

Earlier in 2023, I had the fantastic opportunity to take part in a SP-OT training session, and I must admit I was apprehensive at first. Suicide is a sensitive topic, and its impact is devastating. I knew I would be in the company of people from all walks of life on the course; from those looking to gain a better understanding of how to talk about suicide, to people who had been directly impacted – whether that be bereaved by or a survivor of suicidal thoughts.

The course puts a big focus on the language we use around suicide; what if I say the wrong thing, or if I upset or offend someone. What if I’ve been using the wrong language all this time? I knew we would be addressing highly emotive topics, and I was concerned about reacting in a way that could inflict upset on another participant in the group. In truth, I didn’t know what to expect, and that was slightly daunting.

On entering the Teams call, I was quickly put at ease and my concerns rapidly faded as I was met on screen with a PAPYRUS facilitator and a group of participants who were engaging in warm and inviting conversation – already debunking my assumption that this would be 90 minutes of one-sided, melancholy teachings. Within 60 seconds of the training beginning, the group were reassured that the session was a safe space and to not feel embarrassed or shy away from voicing our opinions and questioning anything we discussed. It became clear that we were encouraged to bring our knowledge – or lack of – and use the session as a space to explore other perspectives and learn from one another.

The beauty of a course that unites people from different professions, experiences and backgrounds is that we’re all different. The session I enrolled onto was joined by fellow charity workers, bereaved parents, educators and concerned others, all uniting for one cause – to expand their understanding of suicide prevention. Throughout the training, we spoke about what language is most effective, terminology and phrases that might cause offense and why, how to identify someone who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts and what might be causing them to feel that why. We shared personal experiences and why the topic matters to us as individuals. We supported each other through some teary moments, and even debated contrasting views – all with a view to learn and grow.

After just an hour and a half, I left a Teams workshop with invaluable skills that will help me not only in my professional life, but in my personal life also.

The SP-OT training course allowed me to gain a better understanding of approaching the conversation of suicide and understand the prevalence and impact of suicide on individuals and communities. I was able to explore the terminology and challenges when talking openly about suicide and learned how to recognise certain indicators that may suggest someone is having thoughts of suicide.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the SP-OT training course is the ability to discuss perspectives with people with varying backgrounds. The session can be intense as the topic can be challenging, but the group discussions, breakout sessions and shared experiences help to broaden understanding and empathy towards those affected by suicide.

It is important to note that the SP-OT training program can be emotionally challenging. Suicide is a sensitive and difficult topic, and the program does not shy away from addressing the realities of suicide. However, the program is delivered in a safe and supportive environment, and participants are encouraged to take breaks if needed. SP-OT is designed to challenge individuals in a constructive and supportive manner.

The benefits of SP-OT training are clear. It provides individuals with a solid foundation in suicide prevention, enabling them to recognise the signs, provide support, and direct those affected towards the appropriate resources. The training is not only informative, but it is also practical, empowering individuals to take action to support those affected by suicide. The skills taught in just 90 minutes can make a difference in the life of someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.

If you are considering taking part in the SP-OT training course, I highly recommend it. You will come away from the program with the skills and knowledge needed to recognise the warning signs of suicide and respond effectively. Remember, suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility, and the SP-OT training program provides you with the tools you need to make a difference in the life of someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.

To find out more about PAPYRUS’s SP-OT training, visit here:

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