Equality leaders get lessons on suicide prevention

14 November 2017

Eddie and Mary Bannon with Che Donald

Instructors Eddie and Mary Bannon with PFEW's Che Donald

Federation representatives received training on suicide prevention on day one of the Equality Liaison Officers Seminar at Leatherhead.

Delegates explored some of the triggers that could lead a colleague to contemplate suicide, from pressures of the job to bullying, problems at home, alcohol abuse, isolation and more. They were reassured by trainer Eddie Bannon that, in the majority of cases, suicide is not inevitable and can be averted with the “right help and support”.

Mr Bannon delivers compact training on the topic to schools, universities and police federations. He said: “Men are three to four times more at risk of suicide because they find it more difficult to ask for help and tend to leave it until things spin out of control. What I want the delegates to take away from the training is how important it is to listen to people and don’t jump in and try to fix things. You need to look for the signs, listen – let them talk about how they feel, and link them to the right support. Take the first step with them.”

Federation Representatives constantly exposed to colleagues’ issues and distress can also feel low, but unlike counsellors they don’t receive a monthly debrief, this is why it is important for Reps to look out for one another too, delegates heard.

Jayne Willetts, Secretary of the PFEW Equality Sub Committee said: “At our last seminar, suicide awareness was highlighted by delegates as a tool they needed. We need more awareness, more understanding and the knowhow to signpost colleagues to the right help that is available. PFEW’s Welfare Survey clearly identified the need for welfare support for officers. With the lack of local NHS and Occupational Health support in forces, the need for Federation help has never been more vital.”

PFEW Equality Sub Committee Chair, Che Donald, summed up the importance of the training: “Around from 20 to 25 officers kill themselves every year – saving just one makes all the difference.”

The seminar is being held over three days and will also explore the topics of medical retirement appeals, Limited Duties and mental wellbeing.

Find out more about the Federation's Welfare Support Programme.