Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Edge of Darkness & The Razor’s Edge

8th October 2016. Nottingham Counsellor’s Group are staging this unique “fringe theatre” style training workshop next Saturday and still have a few places available. This workshop is almost exclusively available to closed “in-house” groups which means that it is virtually impossible for individual participants to attend. This is the only opportunity this year so act fast! If you are interested e-mail nottingham.counsellors@gmail.com to book your place.

Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, self-harm, Suicide, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Suicide – a casual affair?

ken070912.001.003.FAIRFAX.melb.s/age news  CRYING.photograph by ken irwin  shows  generic single eye crying SPECIAL 111

ken070912.001.003.FAIRFAX.melb.s/age news CRYING.photograph by ken irwin shows generic single eye crying SPECIAL 111

Some while ago I was delivering a training course on “dangerous behaviour” to a housing association when a man popped his head around the door and enquired as to whether this was the “Ladder Awareness Training.” I have to confess, to my shame, I could not prevent myself from bursting out into laughter. Could there really be such a thing as a workshop for grown ups on how to use a ladder? Yet I was the one being silly – an organisation should discharge its responsibility to ensure the safety of its staff and the public.

Now compare this to what we do about suicide. Suicide is the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35 (Five Years On, Department Of Health, 2005) and it’s estimated that around one million people will die by suicide worldwide each year – a lot more than die falling off a ladder! Incredibly, many mental health professionals receive NO training in understanding, assessing and responding to suicidal behaviour. I recently reviewed a M.Sc Forensic Psychology course and, even though the suicide rate in prison is reckoned to be 12 times that of the general public, suicide did not feature at all on the syllabus.

Often friends and family have to wait for a loved one to make an attempt on their life before they get any help – the silver lining should be that at last they will be in the safe and competent hands of the professionals. Except they are not. Acute mental health units often do little more than observe, restrict and medicate – they do not even effectively assess risk even though that is one of their primary roles.

A woman, following a suicide attempt, is admitted to hospital on a Section 2 of the Mental Health Act. A nurse asks some questions to help ascertain whether she really wished to die (she does). During her time in the acute mental health unit no further formal assessment of suicide risk is made and as she declines medication no treatment is offered. Her suicide attempt is viewed as a response to “situational stress” and yet no-one investigates whether her situation was getting better or worse while in hospital (it was getting a whole lot worse). None-the-less, the psychiatrist says she looked happier and told him she wouldn’t hurt herself (an unexplained improvement is an indicator of acute suicide risk and 50% of in-patients dissemble prior to taking their lives) – so takes he her off the Section and allows her leave. She doesn’t return on time and eventually she is found by a helicopter rescue team by a railway track. Still there is no re-assessment of suicide risk and she is allowed to continue taking leave from the ward – despite the the fact that best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour and it is well-known that suicide risk varies enormously over time. She starts making a list of her possessions (putting things in order?) and tells friends and family not to visit (another indicator of suicide risk), but does check that they are coping with her dog. Prior to the current crisis she had always said that the one reason she would never kill herself was her dog – and yet during her whole time on the ward she never once asked to see him (the primary protective factor). The following day she had an important appointment and yet 15 minutes before she was allowed to leave the ward – no-one asked why. She failed to return on time and only did so after frantic calls from her mother. Still there was no re-appraisal of the situation. Later that evening she again asked to leave the ward and was again allowed to do so. This time she didn’t return …

The point is that less training and less skill was applied to keeping this woman alive than was offered to the man hoping to use his ladder. Why?

You might also be interested to read this Poor mental care blamed as mother burns herself to death. Whatever this is about its not lack of resources.

Filed under: Other Mental Health, self-harm, Suicide, Uncategorized, , , ,

Beyond Abuse: working with high risk service users

This dramatic course delivered by Dr Iain Bourne is open for applications by Sitra:

12th September 2012 in Southampton

25th October 2012 in London

Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, Violence, , , , , , ,

Mental health charity fined over employee knife death

Monday, 1 February 2010

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8491026.stm

A mental health charity has been ordered to pay £50,000 for failing to protect a graduate who was stabbed to death by a paranoid schizophrenic.

Mental Health Matters employee Ashleigh Ewing, 22, was found dead in Ronald Dixon’s Newcastle home in 2006.

Dixon, then 35, later denied murder, but admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

The Sunderland-based charity admitted health and safety breaches and was fined £30,000, with £20,000 costs.

Newcastle Crown Court was told the charity was aware Dixon had a history of violence and refusing to take his medication.

Nonetheless, they sent the Northumbria University psychology graduate, from Hebburn, South Tyneside, to visit him alone at the house in Heaton.

She was stabbed 39 times with four different kitchen knives.

Dixon was jailed indefinitely in 2007

Prosecutor Kevin Donnelly said Miss Ewing’s death was not caused by Mental Health Matters but that further risk assessments and training should have been carried out in order to protect her.

He said: “The prosecution does not suggest that Ashleigh Ewing’s death at the hands of Ronald Dixon was an event that could or should have been foreseen.

“Mental Health Matters failed to identify and respond to the increasing risks to which Ashleigh Ewing was exposed in the course of her employment.”

But he added: “It cannot be said that the failings of Mental Health Matters caused Ashleigh Ewing’s death.”

The court was told that there was no guarantee Miss Ewing would not have been killed had risk assessments been carried out, but that the likelihood could have been reduced.

The judge, Mr Justice Keith, said: “The fact that a life has tragically been lost is a fact which must be reflected in the level of the fine.

“But it goes without saying that nothing can compensate for the loss of Ashleigh’s life, which is of course precious.”

James Maxwell-Scott, defending, said: “Mental Health Matters wishes to apologise unreservedly to her family and the court for the failing which it admits.

“Mental Health Matters is deeply sorry that this tragedy occurred and its thoughts and sympathies are first and foremost with the family.”

In a statement, Miss Ewing’s family said: “It was tragic that she had to pay with her life so that lessons could be learned which might saves lives in the future.”

Pam Waldron of the Health and Safety Executive said: “While Mental Health Matters had procedures in place, paperwork doesn’t save lives. Those procedures and policies have got to be followed through.”

Following his trial in October 2007, Dixon was detained indefinitely.

Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, psychosis, Violence, , , , , , , ,