Please note that this chat will be about suicide. If you need to talk to someone, follow this link to find a helpline in your country. The same website has information if you are concerned about someone else. The Samaritans website also has a range of information, including how to start a difficult conversation, or what to do if you’re concerned about a friend on Facebook.
There will be no #OTalk chat on Tuesday 9th September, as we will be joining other professions on Twitter on the 10th to support World Suicide Prevention Day (#wspd), part of a 24-hour tweetathon with Dr Alys Cole-King. We will be using the hashtag #MDTChat, and the chat will run from 8-9pm BST (click here for your local time).
Here’s an excerpt from the pre-chat blog post, which can be found on the PhysioTalk website:
Healthcare professionals and suicide prevention
Suicide is complex with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved (IASP, 2014). For example, physiotherapists and occupational therapists commonly work with people who experience suicidal ideation, which can be associated with physical as well as mental illness. This can include physically disabling or painful illnesses including chronic pain, significant sports injuries, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury. Treatment sessions with patients can provide an invaluable opportunity to notice distress, ask questions and respond appropriately – potentially saving a life.
During this chat we want to think about the some of the situations where we might come into professional and personal contact with someone who is thinking about suicide, what you can do to help, and sources of support to help you do this.
Connectedness can also be understood in terms of clinical care and we’d like to explore how connectedness between AHPs, nurses, primary care and other local health and social care services can help people who are in distress, and what we can do to improve communication and collaboration at a local level.
“Every encounter with a suicidal person is an opportunity to intervene to reduce their distress and, potentially, to save a life” Dr Alys Cole-King.
Sophie (@sophalexanderOT), an occupational therapist working in a crisis resolution and home treatment team, has written a reflection about her role in preparation for the chat as she can’t be there on the night:
Occupational Therapists working with people who have suicidal ideation
My first post as an Occupational Therapist after graduating was in a Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment team and shortly after starting I realised how many people were experiencing thoughts of suicide and how many of my caseload wanted to end their lives. The mental health foundation identified that around 4,400 people end their own lives in England each year, and at least ten times that number attempt suicide.
After working within Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment (CRHT) for 10 months I completed a course relating to assessing suicide risk in adults, and this confirmed to me the importance of my role, of Occupational Therapists, within theCRHT setting. During the course we explored factors that can increase suicide risk which included social isolation, role change, and hopelessness, unable to identify/utilise coping skills, and physical health and/or mental health difficulties. These factors are areas that Occupational Therapists can offer support in and it made me question why Occupational Therapists aren’t always present in Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment teams. Whilst working within the team I have identified that initially whilst people are in mental health crisis, they are not always able to engage with Occupational Therapy, but that the period afterwards whilst supported by Home Treatment service, Occupational Therapist’s can explore with people the factors that caused/ increased thoughts of suicide, exploring with them their social networks, their roles and helping them to identify a reason for living, something that is meaningful to themselves.
I believe that whilst all members of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) offer full assessment and support relating to suicide prevention, I feel that Occupational Therapists can offer a different view and specialism to the team and the approach to suicide prevention.
People I support at work are in mental health crisis, and that doesn’t mean that they all have suicidal ideation, and often our work in CRHT involves supporting people before they experience suicidal thoughts. This includes looking at ways to manage their mental health deterioration, and also using occupation as a form of time out from mental distress, and also as a meaningful distraction to aid recovery.
Unfortunately I am at work whilst the OT talk is taking place, although I will try to catch the end of it and chip in where I can. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my post.
EDIT: Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this chat as I was at work, but I’ve seen it described as “thought provoking”. The Numbers indicate a well-attended and wide-reaching chat, with 84 participants and 1,051,921 impressions. Check out the PhysioTalk Blog for analytics and transcript. Thank you to everyone who participated!
An #OTalk CPD template is available for documenting your engagement with the chat.