Up Close on suicide prevention: Gemma Kirk from Herts Police mental health unit opens up on trying to stop people taking their own lives

By Ailsa Roe-Watts

7th Sep 2022 | Local News

Read on for the inspirational Gemma opening up on suicide, how she strives to prevent it through her job, and how it has impacted her own life. CREDIT: Unplash
Read on for the inspirational Gemma opening up on suicide, how she strives to prevent it through her job, and how it has impacted her own life. CREDIT: Unplash

Hitchin Nub News aims to support our community, promoting shops, businesses, charities, clubs and sports groups.

We showcase some of these businesses, organisations and interesting individuals from our area displaying creativity and innovation in our regular feature called 'Up Close'.

For our latest Hitchin Nub News Up Close we're supporting World Suicide Prevention Day, while highlight the incredible work undertaken by Gemma Kirk from Herts Police Mental Health unit.

Read on for the inspirational Gemma opening up on suicide, how she strives to prevent it through her job, and how it has impacted her own life.

........

Twelve people died by suicide in Hertfordshire in August and eight people took their own lives in July.

 The sad thing is that their choice to end their lives was preventable and each death probably affected about 135 people, including children.

Gemma Kirk who works on suicide prevention in the Mental Health and Policing Unit explains what we can do to help prevent suicide as part of World Suicide Prevention Day, which is on Saturday (10 September).

Gemma explained: Every suicide is unique but suicide can happen when people feel overwhelmed and cannot think rationally, cannot find a way out and can't fix a problem quickly enough. Suicide does not discriminate; it can affect us all."

 Sadly, a third of calls frontline officers deal with now involves someone in mental health crisis.  

The majority of these people who died by suicide did not intentionally take their own life – their minds take over their thoughts and feelings and it is so overwhelming that they cannot control it.  

Gemma explained: "Many people who feel suicidal, do not want to die, they just do not want to live the life they are living. 

"The distinction may be small, but it is so important to recognise and understand this.  

"Speaking to survivors of suicide, we know that this feeling can pass and many people are able to go on and have fulfilling lives with the right support." 

Gemma works closely with the Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust (HPFT) who lead on mental health as well as a number of specialist agencies.  

From multi-agency collaborative work, she has launched a live operation to help people who are repeatedly in mental health crisis and at risk of suicide.  She added: "We have plans in place to help safeguard these people most at risk of suicide."

Gemma, who has done extensive training on mental health and suicide as well as working in a mental health hospital, has personal experience of suicide when her uncle took his own life earlier this year.

She said: "Losing my uncle was a real shock and having 'lived' experience has consolidated my knowledge of suicide.  

"Emotions following a bereavement following a suicide includes anger, confusion, frustration, helplessness and guilt. The quote suicide does not end pain, it transfers it to someone else, could not relate enough for my family."

Prevention First. How can we help prevent suicide? 

To help prevent suicide, we need to prioritise our own mental health, says Gemma. We need to identify when we feel overwhelmed, reach out and talk. One cure to feeling overwhelmed is to do nothing. We live in an instant world that's fast-paced and stressful, we need to remember we all have the ability to pause.

"We need to promote self-care," Gemma explains, adding: "I de-stress and put myself first by going for a run. I know that I can do my job more effectively and balance my home life which includes being a single mum to three children if I invest in some 'me' time."

She said: "When people feel that they are unable to cope and think taking their life will help during dark times or after negative experiences, they cannot see how rich their lives are, how their pain or desperation may be temporary and how devastated people will be without them.

"We also need to help remove the stigma of suicide."  

For help and support you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123, call the HPFT on 0800 6444 101 – or 999 if you, or someone you know, intends to take their own life immediately.

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PREVIOUS NUB NEWS UP CLOSE FEATURES

Up Close: Hard-working Rory's Story as young achiever flies high with renowned financial experts Lyndhurst

Up Close: Hitchin Food Heroes - Amani Kitchen angling Hertfordshire's hunger to the wonders of Iraqi street food

Up Close: International Motor Racing series born in a Hitchin pub holds first race

Up Close: Q&A with courageous Ukraine refugee Alina Kurylova who now lives in Hitchin

Up Close: Taking in a refugee from Ukraine is incredibly rewarding says Hitchin host Debbie Stalkartt

Up Close: Get set for the brilliant Cider and Cheese Festival at Hitchin Town's Top Field

Up Close: You're never too old for body art - but think before you ink says talented Ela Lawrynowicz owner of acclaimed Femnink Tattoos

Up Close with the brilliant Willow Foundation

Up Close: Lockdown and challenging life events tested me - but now I have Penny says Kate Peto owner of successful VW campervan wedding company

Up Close: Lyndhurst Financial Management's Joe Pritchard - A Story of Success

Up Close: Stevenage FC boss Steve Evans on loving life at Boro, Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola and so much more

Up Close: Bowled Over - Bowmans and Ickleford CC are the perfect match

Up Close: Angels' Share owners Harpreet and Preeti's exciting new plans for Lower Stondon's Bird in Hand pub

UP CLOSE: How backpacking trip led to Lauren and Toby creating acclaimed Bite Around the World - that has now catered for Nike, Google and Just Eat

UP CLOSE: Amanda Reed lollipop lady – our town's true unsung Hitchin hero

UP CLOSE EXCLUSIVE interview with Sir Kier Starmer

UP CLOSE: Matt Bean, owner of Cantina Carnitas

UP CLOSE: Chris Cheah, owner of Chicken George

UP CLOSE: Simmy and Jhai Dhillon, owners of Rice and Spice

UP CLOSE: Hitchin Food Rescue

UP CLOSE: Adam Howard, organiser BackToSchoolival

UP CLOSE: Hitchin's inspirational Black Lives Matter movement

UP CLOSE: RuPaul revolutionised positive perception of drag among mainstream says north Herts' Magenta

UP CLOSE: The brilliant Keith Jones - master butcher and master crooner

UP CLOSE: Freddy and Em, landlord and landlady of The Half Moon pub

UP CLOSE: Bim Afolami, Hitchin MP on racism, NHS, Brexit, lockdown, welfare, Marcus Rashford, Kier Starmer and much more

UP CLOSE: Fabio Vincenti, owner of Fabio's Gelato

UP CLOSE: Danny Pearson, Beano comic writer

UP CLOSE:Hitchin Squirrel Rescue

UP CLOSE: Tradee On Demand - the brilliant new app dubbed 'Uber for property maintenance'

UP CLOSE: Flip Connect and Hitchin Town - The Perfect Match

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