How did you end up working in suicide prevention?
At age 16, I started out as a cadet nurse working in a psychiatric hospital. My nursing career progressed from there. I spent over 25 years in A&E as a mental health liaison nurse and latter team leader, which is unusual to spend that length of time in a part of the NHS where there is usually lot of movement and change in roles. But this allowed me to develop strong connections with those in the field and an understanding of people’s distress and despair though the many thousands of personal stories I heard during this time. It also fostered a belief that we can help and make a difference, and that suicide prevention is not only potentially everybody’s business but is in most situations achievable.
I’ve always believed too that research and evidence is incredibly important. I am not formal or trained in academia, but through connections with others I have hopefully learned a lot – I am a bit of a sponge!
So, I’ve been involved in mostly self-harm and suicide prevention for approaching 50 years, including as suicide prevention manager for East Midlands.
I supposedly retired from the NHS (my wife would dispute this!) although I still hold a research fellow role in my local NHS mental health trust, I sit on the NSPA steering group, am involved with a variety of organisations and settings and of course I am now also on the board of STORM® Skills Training which I genuinely feel is a privilege. I feel honoured to try to contribute in an organisation with a strong and highly respected training role in an area so close to my heart.