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Using ASIST in real life

Hear from participants who put their training with PAPYRUS into practice 

Sarah Morley

Sarah Morley

Sarah Morley is a Safeguarding Officer at a Further Education College in East Lancashire. Of many training courses undertaken she believes ASIST with PAPYRUS has had the most positive impact.

I completed ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills) training in January 2015. I’ve undertaken many different safeguarding courses, but the training with PAPYRUS has had the most positive impact on my role and the daily techniques I use during practice.

Young people struggling with suicidal thoughts are one of our biggest safeguarding issues. I’ve supported many students, but the training has given me more confidence to ask someone directly if they are having suicidal thoughts. Most of the young people I see are grateful that someone has noticed that they have not been themselves, and relieved to say that they feel suicidal out loud. It’s the beginning of a safe way out of the dark.

ASIST taught me the power of silence when listening to a young person talking about their suicidal thoughts – or indeed in any difficult conversation. Asking direct questions, and then being silent and listening to their answer, gives someone the opportunity to think about how they feel, and why they feel that way, in a safe place. It shows them that you’re not just listening, but you’re actually hearing what they have to say. Supporting them to make their own safety plan, instead of following a natural instinct to try and ‘solve’ their problem, is so valuable.

Using the skills I developed through the training with PAPYRUS has meant that many young people I work with feel safe enough to make a disclosure, figure out themselves why they might be having suicidal thoughts, think about their reasons to live, and make their own decisions and safety plan to get the right help and support.

If I could give any advice to a young person struggling with suicidal thoughts, or someone that is worried about a friend, relative or colleague, it’s to speak up about suicide. Talk about it! Ask for help if you need it, or ask someone about suicide.

One of the young people I supported gave me feedback, in the hope it would help other young people in a similar situation:

“I'd try to learn how to cope by myself. I was too afraid to ask for help and I'd stick to the idea that I will go through it and I will be just fine. But sometimes I was in so much pain I wanted to end my life... I gained the courage to ask for help. Instead of telling me that I will be just fine and everything will be okay, you showed me I could do something to make it okay myself. You've listened to me carefully and offered me good advice. You didn't make me do anything, but helped me take small steps towards getting better. You cared. Sometimes it's all a person needs, to see that there is someone who cares, someone who is willing to listen to you and help you no matter what. That's what I would advise to other teenage people going through a really hard time in their lives - to not be scared and speak out, ask for help. It might save your life.”


We're always on the look out for people to share their stories of ASIST with us. 

If you'd like to tell us about your experiences of using our training, get in touch with National Training Development Manager Alice Newton: alice.newton@papyrus-uk.org


Get in touch today to find out how we can help you and your organisation.


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Feel free to contact Alice about your training needs by emailing training@papyrus-uk.org or by calling the office on 01925 572 444

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Suicide is the biggest killer of young people - male and female - under 35 in the UK. Many thousands more attempt or contemplate suicide, harm themselves or suffer alone, afraid to speak openly about how they are feeling.

We are the national charity for the prevention of young suicide. We draw from the experience of many who have been touched personally by young suicide across the UK and speak on their behalf in our campaigns and in our work. We need more people who share our aims to join us to strengthen our voice - together we can save young lives.

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PAPYRUS will treat any information given here as confidential and will never use it for marketing purposes. We will store it and use it only to be able to contact our members and supporters and share information with them.

There are many reasons why people join us - for example, they may have been bereaved or affected by suicide in some way, have a professional interest in the area, or want to share their story and raise awareness.
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