Mental health is a topic that has become more of a priority than ever before, yet there is still a stigma associated with suicide as people struggle to understand it, let alone talk about it.
In 2021 there were 5219 registered suicides in England, which is 307 more than in 2020. Around three-quarters of these were male suicides which is consistent with long-term trends. To highlight the importance of suicide awareness ahead of World Mental Health Day on Monday 10 October, we are delighted to share that our Health, Safety & Wellbeing Consultant and Mental Health First Aider Joanne Howley, is now also an Orange Button holder.
The Orange Button Community Scheme was developed by NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System. The aim of the scheme is to ‘prevent suicide by providing information and the ability to target messages to high-risk groups, such as middle-aged males’. The scheme identifies those who have undertaken suicide awareness training and are not afraid to talk about this taboo subject. It is a way of supporting people in the community who may be having suicidal thoughts or are worried about a friend or family member.
Since its launch in 2020, the scheme has trained around 4,000 volunteers in suicide awareness who are already making a difference in the community. Orange button holders are trained to be approachable, non-judgemental, caring and understanding, so they can listen or start a conversation around suicide. They are easily identified by a small orange pin badge. If a member of the public sees someone wearing this distinctive badge, they can ‘push the button’ and ask for information or support. There is also an orange sticker for businesses and organisations, such as shops and cafes, to alert the public that trained staff are available to help.
The scheme is not a substitute for counselling, mental health service or on-going support. It is a community made up of members of the public who are trained to listen without judgement, provide information and comprehensive signposting to appropriate information or support services.
World Mental Health Day is a day to raise awareness surrounding mental health, but we must keep the conversation going. Talking really can make a difference.
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