Compassion can change and save lives says Samaritans Cymru

For World Suicide Prevention day, Samaritans Cymru will today launch a new toolkit for workplaces in Wales, designed to help them act compassionately when encountering people in emotional distress. ‘Working with compassion – A toolkit for Wales’ has been designed to provide staff with facts and information which can help them act compassionately. The toolkit includes tips on becoming a better listener, practical steps on what to do when someone is having a mental health crisis and a guide to having a difficult conversation.  

Many sectors, services and workplaces in Wales interact with people who are experiencing emotional distress and Samaritans Cymru are highlighting the importance of treating them with compassion. They say that we all encounter emotional distress at some point in our lives and 1 in 4 of us have poor mental health; therefore we should draw on these experiences to treat people with compassion. Samaritans Cymru wants to encourage a culture where people are confident to ask for help and give help to others when they need it, and does not stigmatise emotional distress.

The toolkit has been released alongside ongoing Samaritans research and work which shows that suicide rates are two to three times higher in the most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the most affluent. We also know that people who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to die by suicide than those in employment and that the risk of suicidal behaviour increases when an individual faces negative life events, such as relationship breakdown, social isolation, or experiences stigma, emotional distress or poor mental health. Those living in poverty are more likely to experience ongoing stress and negative life events, thus increasing their risk of suicidal behaviour

John Griffiths AM, Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee said –

‘I am in full support of ‘Working with Compassion – A Toolkit for Wales’ and hope it will help many workplaces to understand the importance of compassion in their daily working lives. Suicide is a major public health issue.  The fact that Samaritans Cymru demonstrates that poverty can be a major contributory factor shows we need an overarching poverty strategy in Wales to help the increasing number of individuals who are struggling to cope.’

 As they launch the new toolkit for World Suicide Prevention Day, Samaritans Cymru have pointed to the increase in the use of foodbanks in Wales and Office for National Statistics (ONS) data which shows people living in the poorest areas of Wales are more likely to die prematurely. These recent developments sit alongside the latest suicide statistics for Wales released last week, which show there were 360 suicides in 2017, compared to 322 in 2016. The rate in Wales in 2017 was higher than in the majority of years since 1981. With the poverty rate for Wales being higher than England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Samaritans Cymru believe a specific poverty strategy for Wales is needed which would also help efforts to reduce suicide.

Sarah Stone, Executive Director for Wales said –

‘We know that suicide and inequality are linked. Our research has found that areas of higher socioeconomic deprivation tend to have higher rates of suicide. In Wales, almost a quarter of the Welsh population live in poverty and we know that these circumstances increase the risk of experiencing emotional distress. We have designed this toolkit to help workplaces, from job centres to banks, to act more compassionately when encountering customers or clients who are going through a hard time.’

 

‘Showing compassion – towards yourself and others – is a skill that can be learned. Acting compassionately does not require any specific resource, time or money. It just relies on you being able to relate to someone else’s emotional state and, crucially, wanting to support them. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need to be an expert to help someone experiencing distress. Compassion can change and save lives’

ENDS

-          For further information, or to request an interview, please contact Emma Gooding, Policy and Communications Officer on e.harris@samaritans.org or 029 2022 2008 / 07984579050

Note to Editors:

The Working with Compassion toolkit will be available for free online from 10th September at www.samaritans.org/wales.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, to listen and offer confidential support when things are getting to you. Please call 116 123 (this number is FREE and will not show up on your phone bill) or call the Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (This number is free to call - please visit samaritans.org/wales for opening hours) You can also email