It’s World Health Day and this year’s theme is Depression: Let’s Talk.
The risk of becoming depressed is increased by poverty, unemployment, life events, physical illness and problems caused by alcohol and drug use.
Depression can be effectively prevented and treated, and often talking with people you trust can be a first step towards recovery from depression.
Today we hear from our friends at the Listening Place, a small charity which provides those who feel life might no longer be worth living with a safe place to come and talk freely and confidentially.
The Importance of Talking
Talking about suicide is possibly the most important thing that can be done in supporting someone that no longer sees the point in living. Most people that have suicidal feelings do not want to die. They just do not want to carry on living the life they have.
The Listening Place gives free, face-to-face support to anyone who is suicidal. It is given by well-trained volunteers, that listen with warmth, empathy, and compassion. It is sustained support, with regular sessions, allowing visitors to open up over time, developing trust and healthy attachment.
Most importantly it is support that allows visitors to talk about suicide.
Volunteers try and understand their visitors, engaging with their feelings, getting a taste of what they are going through. Helping them explore their darkest moments. When this happens there can be an enormous emotional relief for the visitor, because the sense of being alone with their suicidal feelings is the most unbearable aspect for them.
Anyone aged 18 years or over can be referred to The Listening Place or contact us yourself.
A Day at The Listening Place, from a helping volunteer
I remember my first day at The Listening Place vividly; I was nervous. Even though I was fully prepared from the training they had given me, I still didn’t quite know what to expect. You see, The Listening Place is a safe space for those who are feeling profoundly suicidal where they can express their emotions without judgment or being overwhelmed with well-meaning advice.
Stigma is a profound issue which encompasses suicide, preventing sufferers from expressing their distress, making them feel isolated and misunderstood. It was this stigma that was partly the cause of my apprehensiveness. As a psychology student, this came as a bit of a surprise to me, because I understand the ideology behind depression and suicide within a clinical vocabulary, yet I felt like I was missing some key knowledge of what to do in a normal social situation. It took for the first person to arrive at The Listening Place to elevate my fear. I heard the doorbell ring and my heart actually jumped … It was time for action. I greeted them and made them a cup of tea. By this point I was already starting to feel slightly ridiculous for feeling any worry at all. There was no difference between talking to this individual and anyone else. This reminded me that stigma is just a social concept deriving from a lack of knowledge and experience, something that we shouldn’t let cloud our judgement.
Not only does The Listening Place enable people to talk about suicide in an open and empathetic environment, it also allows for its volunteers to grow and develop into charismatic and empathetic individuals. The joy that you receive from seeing people improve from appointment to appointment is really empowering. So in retrospect, The Listening Place may be giving their time and ears to the people that come in, but we are also getting something back too: their company.