The Listening Place

30 October 2019

Written by: Paul Jackson, the Listening Place

News and announcements

Paul Jackson from The Listening Place explains how the charity’s experience in helping with suicide prevention in Lambeth will now be shared with Lambeth Together’s partnership.

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The Listening Place

“We never say ‘the Listening Place saves lives’. However, over three years we feel we’ve made it possible for a considerable number to save their own. We don’t direct our visitors, or judge. We listen with warmth, compassion, and empathy, helping the visitor explore options. We work on the principle that if the visitor makes up their own mind, they are more likely to do it, than being told what to do.”

Breaking the cycle

“When we set up The Listening Place we consulted health specialists who agreed there was a lack of support for suicidal people. It’s a cycle: suicide attempt leads to hospital A&E, referred back to their GP, repeat. Lambeth’s King’s College Hospital Liaison Psychiatry were particularly supportive and encouraging.”

Face to face

“We agreed regular face to face support would be a different approach. Visitors feel they’re carrying on a conversation with someone who knows them, not re-explaining the problem every time. Talking about suicide is possibly the most important thing to support someone that no longer sees the point in living.”

Maintaining momentum

“Every referral we call within 24 hours, and see them within a week. We realise that many of our visitors have experienced rejection. We try and make our visitors feel that they have a safe and caring place, where they can share their darkest moments. We know that many have disorderly lifestyles that prevent them keeping appointments; we work with them to ensure they receive support.”

Mutual consent

“We set up fortnightly appointments with the same listening volunteer. After three months we review the situation. In most cases we will support a visitor for 6 months, at which point we disengage by mutual consent. We know that in the majority of cases we’ll see a significant reduction in suicidal feelings between 3 to 5 months of support. Visitors can always come back if suicidal feelings return.”

Lambeth partnership

“We got involved with Lambeth when we saw a ‘suicide prevention’ day organised by the Mayor and said: ‘We have two years’ experience, how can we make a difference?’ We offer training in effective listening skills and how to listen to a suicidal person calmly. Suicidal people will stop talking if they feel the listener is shocked or affected by it.”

Lifesaving conversations

“We teach that suicide prevention needs empathy, compassion, and warmth, much, much more than it needs specific expertise.  Ordinary people make a big a difference because there are so many more of us than health professionals!”

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