Professionally as a nurse over 35 years, I have met and tried to support many people who have expressed suicidal thoughts or who have tried to take their life. Each person leaves a memory. Personally my life has been directly touched by suicide through friends and relations. I have had people close to me and worked supporting people who used self-injurious behaviours as a means of coping at certain critical points or decision points.

I began organising STORM training for the organisation in 2006 in response to the Suicide Prevention Strategy, which called for a training response to support the workforce in helping managing individuals who were expressing suicide ideation or who had attempted suicide.

In my then role as Training & Development Manager for Mental Health Services for Plymouth Community, I was tasked with researching existing training materials available and providing a business case/option appraisal for the organisation.

Ultimately, the decision was to take STORM, train four staff to deliver the training to the staff initially in Mental Health Services and then to a wider audience.

In 2006, the organisation was seeking a structured approach that would tailor with the Care Programme Approach system used in the organisation.  We wanted an approach that was able to provide templates in a package that guided practitioners through the conversation about suicide and to help record responses accurately.  We found that STORM does both of these particularly well, well hence the choice.  It (STORM® Framework) is now in use in the new electronic recording system of the organisation.

Three colleagues and myself were trained in STORM in July 2007. An exciting and challenging 5 days delivered by a brilliant consultant for whom we developed a huge respect for her knowledge and professionalism.  The STORM Consultant also had a caring way in which she took us through the training and helped us to become a team to train STORM.  Our first training session began in September 2007 and continues to run now. That’s an incredible 9 years!

Both a colleague and myself became STORM Consultants in 2009.  

In 2009 Dr Gill Green spoke to us about the opportunity when she came to do our follow-up supervision.  Following on from this a colleague and myself came to Manchester to meet and undergo an interview & training session to be accepted onto the Consultants list.

Hundreds as a STORM facilitator within my organisation and about 40 STORM facilitators in total. 
In terms of STORM I have mainly trained professionals working within organisations.  Over the years we have trained registered and non-registered Nurses, Doctors, GP’s, Social Workers, Physiotherapists, Art Therapists.  Colleagues in the Young Parsons Services have included teaching staff.
I am in the very fortunate position to have been able to retire at 55, two years ago. I have remained as a STORM Consultant and was able to retrain colleagues in the upgrade for STORM as well as welcoming some new additions to the organisation Livewell Southwest, a Community Interest Company in 2015. I continue some work with the Royal College of Nursing, as a Branch Executive Member as Secretary and as a Board Member of the South West Regional Board of the RCN. I was pleased to see that Suicide Prevention training for Students of Nursing was an agenda item at the RCN Congress in 2014 on which I spoke about STORM.  There are continuing discussions between the RCN and University providers in subsequent years.  I also do some training as an Associate Tutor for the local MIND group. Believe it when people say that you are never so busy as when you retire! I am working on our house which is 250 years old with a myriad of problems in old age. This enables me to use other skills in building, problem solving and woodwork. Gardening, not my strong point nor is becoming a domestic god! I have a myriad of other interests and activities that take up my time, including trekking, sailing, spending time with my 5-year-old granddaughter, singing and most recently started attending the local Gym.

Having to support a member of staff who had an experience of supporting someone who had died by suicide, thought that they had ‘dealt with it..’ as it had been an event several years before, who found that we revisited some of the experiences. The person was adamant that they did not want to withdraw from the training so with support of the co-trainer and the group the person completed all part of the training very well.  It demonstrated for me the power of the programme to help engagement and reflection in a safe environment, to help consolidate strengths.

If you have a ‘gut’ feeling that something may not be well with someone, ask a question....’Are you OK?  You do have the skills to have a conversation about suicide and self-injury.

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