Emergency services launch new initiative to battle suicide and self harm

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Emergency services are being trained to spot those at risk of suicide and self harm.

Teaming up with the Samaritans, the 12 month programme will focus on control rooms, where handlers receive 999 calls and will train staff to recognise possible signs of someone experiencing a suicide or self harm crisis.

It will also help call handlers decide what assistance can be provided by the police force, fire service and other support and welfare agencies.

The training will enable officers and staff, who often work under intense pressure, to look for warning signs in each other.

Head of the force control room Wayne Humberstone, said: “This is a really great example of partners working together, exchanging expertise and providing an even better service to the public of Bedfordshire.

“We are really grateful to Samaritans and hope the partnership also gives them a greater understanding of how control room operators work across two of the primary emergency services”

Jane Clarke, fire station commander added: “Our control team receives a wide variety of calls from the public, not just ones about fires. Some of the people we talk to can be very depressed and even contemplating suicide.

“This training will assist us in pointing them in the direction of the vital support they need and should have life-saving consequences. It is excellent to be working with Samaritans and the police to ensure we all respond in similar ways.”

Samaritans spokesman Robert Labe, said: “Every 90 minutes someone in the UK or Ireland dies by suicide. If we can help reduce those figures by sharing our expertise with organisations like Bedfordshire Police, it will be a positive outcome.”

For more information about the Samaritans visit: www.samaritans.org