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Academic calls for wider access to suicide prevention training for nurses

A nurse academic with a family experience of suicide has called for all nurses to undergo awareness training. 

A nurse academic with a family experience of suicide has called for all nurses to undergo awareness training.

University of Salford neonatal lecturer Sarah Fitchett said she wants to see all nurses undergo training, regardless of their specialism. Ms Fitchetts son Ben was 14 when he took his own life in 2013.

'Training would give healthcare professionals the ability to ask questions,' Ms Fitchett told Mental Health Practice.

It should be for all healthcare staff that come into contact with people who are in crisis.

How to help

Ms Fitchett attended a suicide prevention conference at the University of Salford on 17 January representing Papyrus, a UK charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide.

She has previously called for training for frontline staff in how to

A nurse academic with a family experience of suicide has called for all nurses to undergo awareness training. 

Consoling
Nurses should undergo training to help with suicide awareness
Picture: iStock

University of Salford neonatal lecturer Sarah Fitchett said she wants to see all nurses undergo training, regardless of their specialism. Ms Fitchett’s son Ben was 14 when he took his own life in 2013.

'Training would give healthcare professionals the ability to ask questions,' Ms Fitchett told Mental Health Practice.

‘It should be for all healthcare staff that come into contact with people who are in crisis.’

How to help

Ms Fitchett attended a suicide prevention conference at the University of Salford on 17 January representing Papyrus, a UK charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide.

She has previously called for training for frontline staff in how to talk and help someone with suicidal thoughts, feelings or plans.

'In my experience, it is not uncommon for nurses to be afraid they will say something wrong if they discuss suicide, or what triggered a patients’ suicidal thought at that time,' she wrote in October last year.

'And the lack of training given in nursing programmes on suicide can leave nurses feeling like there is a risk of further harm to the patient.'

Ms Fitchett, who has more than 25 years’ nursing experience in the NHS, said that despite the focus on professional development through revalidation, mental health first aid and suicide prevention skills ‘can get lost along the way’. 

Review

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Willis, who led the Shape of Caring review into nurse education which was published in 2015, previously said he met new and experienced nurses while conducting his review who he felt were unable to deal with mental health issues.

Speaking at the University of Salford conference, Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said he expected the forthcoming five-year forward view mental health workforce strategy, led by Health Education England, to address mental health training in the wider workforce. 

He said: ‘It means that if you end up as a community nurse, an acute nurse or a mental health nurse, you would have an understanding of mental health issues and suicide prevention.’


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