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‘From Grief to Hope’ - HPFT’s World Suicide Prevention Day online conference

17 Sep 21

“There is always hope”

On Friday 10 September, we hosted our second virtual online conference to mark World Suicide Prevention day, with this year’s theme being ‘From Grief to Hope’.

The ‘Grief to Hope’ conference was chaired by Deputy Medical Director Dr Jo Farrow and explored a range of topics, including looking at suicide risk in older adults and creating hope though action; public health and suicide prevention; using simulation training to prevent suicide and exploring faith as a protective factor in suicide prevention. These themes also acknowledged the impact of social stresses on suicide rates and how collectively we are exploring ways to identify and support service users with these challenges. At the heart of the conference was ‘hope and recovery’ and the importance of working to instil this vision in our service users, their friends, families and carers.

Speakers at the conference included:

  • Professor Asif Zia, Executive Director of Quality and Medical Leadership
  • Dr Venkatesh Malipatil, Consultant Psychiatrist, Mental Health Services for Older People
  • Dr Manawar Khan, Health Improvement Lead – MH and Suicide prevention, Public Health, (Hertfordshire County Council
  • Shelly Taylor, Health Improvement Lead – Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System
  • Dr Rakesh Magon, Deputy Medical Director
  • Anne Hunt, Deputy Director of Nursing and Partnerships
  • Tom Cahill, Chief Executive

Conference delegates were also privileged to hear from two speakers with their own direct experience of suicide:

  • Sue Willgoss – Sue founded the charity ‘Lift Loud for Danny’ and she is Advisor for Suicide Prevention with Lived Experience with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Sue talked about her journey of being ‘a mum bereaved by suicide, to advisor for suicide prevention’. Since Sue’s son passed away in 2018, she has been championing service users (especially men and those with autism) and their ongoing quest for better services
  • Michelle Karpus, an Expert by Experience, shared a moving account of her personal journey with mental health. She talked about how services supported her, where she experienced difficulties and gave helpful tips for how everyone can all approach the issue of suicide and those experiencing suicidal thoughts with greater care and sensitivity

Deputy Medical Director Dr Jo Farrow said:

“The conference was a fantastic opportunity for staff to come together and learn more about suicide prevention, the work that is being done in HPFT and across the system. I am very grateful to Sue and Michelle for bravely sharing their stories about the impact of suicide. Their work reminds us all that one life lost is one too many as we all strive together to ensure no one feels that suicide is their only option.”

‘From Grief to Hope’ was an extremely powerful, enlightening, and informative event attended by over 90 guests online, with everyone having the opportunity at the end to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a Schwartz round facilitated by Clinical Director and Consultant Psychologist Andrew Nicholls

To watch a recording of the conference, click on this link. Note that the final section where attendees shared their own personal stories was a safe space and not recorded for confidentiality reasons.

The services listed here can all provide advice or support around any of the issues discussed at the conference:

HPFT Single Point of Access (SPA)

Call 0800 6444 101 (available 24/7)

Click here to use the SPA webchat service. Available Monday-Friday from 7am till 7pm.

Stay Alive

For those at risk of suicide and people worried about someone.

Available to download on a smartphone or tablet.

Zero Suicide Alliance

Empowering all people to take positive action against suicide.

The ZSA provides free suicide prevention training that teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Here For You

Health and social care staff support.

You can call 24/7 to confidentially talk through any problems you’re facing, whatever they may be, on 0344 257 3960.

Alternatively, you can email hereforyou@nhs.net. This email address is monitored from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.  

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