Our Role in Time, Space, Compassion

It has been a privilege to be a part of developing Time, Space, Compassion, first with our colleagues on the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and now working with our partners in Suicide Prevention Scotland. In its simplest form, this approach is about recognising that at the point of suicidal crisis, people need time, space and compassion. It offers a framework informed by peoples lived and living experiences that can be used to build on what works, which can also be used as the basis of a shared approach to building capacity within communities. 

These three principles chime with our own approach to how we support people here at Penumbra Mental Health. Perhaps that’s because 26% of our colleagues are employed in peer support roles. Perhaps it’s because learning from peoples lived and living experiences keep us improving our practices. Or perhaps it’s because all of our services are shaped, and often times directly co-designed, alongside people with lived and living experience. This unique insight from people creates an important space for empathy, connection and trust within our relational approach to mental health recovery.  

Suicide Prevention Scotland is the collective tasked with delivering the Suicide Prevention Strategy: Creating Hope Together. As part of that collective we’re working with partners, Change Mental Health, to deliver outcome 3.  

“Everyone affected by suicide is able to access high quality, compassionate, appropriate, and timely support which promotes wellbeing and recovery. This applies to all children, young people and adults who experience suicidal behaviour, anyone who cares for them, and anyone affected by suicide in other ways.”  

Suicide is complex. There are often multiple factors which contribute to someone reaching a crisis point, so we must always see the person.

The principles of Time, Space, Compassion will help shape this work. So how do we break it down? 

Time. People who experience suicidal crisis need time to be heard and be able to explore their suicidal thoughts. And we know that accessing support in a timely way day or night without having to wait is an incredibly important step in being able to interrupt suicidal thoughts. Suicide is not inevitable. 

Space. People need access to support in a way that feels comfortable and safe. A safe space can be a physical location or it can be over the phone and online. People should be able to access whatever space works best for them.  

Finally, compassion. Suicide is complex. There are often multiple factors which contribute to someone reaching a crisis point, so we must always see the person. Part of this is recognising that each person’s circumstances are unique. It’s also about taking a trauma informed approach. But ultimately, any response must be compassionate, understanding, and provide trusted listening ear, where the person feels safe to open up.  

Going forward, it’s important that we see Time, Space, Compassion embedded across settings and systems where people are accessing support if Scotland is to make progress on reducing the number of deaths by suicide. We should also think of this as a live process where we continue to learn from new evidence and research that tells us what works; this will key in informing a flexible and effective response to suicidal crisis. But it’s also about promoting a culture of normalising open conversations around suicide, and empowering friends, family and colleagues to feel confident about being a part of the response.  

What an inspiring message, thanks Mike.

To read more Penumbra news visit: penumbra.org.uk/news

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