Episode 15

Verity Bramwell shares pragmatic actionable strategies for suicide prevention

Episode Notes

In this week’s episode, Roksana is joined by Verity Bramwell as they talk about actionable strategies for suicide prevention. Verity has an extensive personal history with suicide and mental health. She shares her unique insight into how communication and vulnerability between parents and children can work to protect the whole family’s mental health to keep suicidal acts at bay.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Her four suicide attempts and the background for each one

  • The relationship between self-care and open communication. You don’t always have to say “yes”!

  • The lack of engagement from her counselor. How can we address this in the family?

  • Modeling vulnerability to your children while they are young, so they express it themselves

  • Dealing with the truth of COVID-19 with your children

  • How to have conversations with children regarding suicidal thoughts and available resources to learn from

About Verity Bramwell:

Experienced charity worker with a history of voluntary work in the secondary education industry. Skilled in Mental Health Advocacy, Training Delivery, Team Coordination, Event Management, and Resiliency. Strong training deliverer with a Bachelor of Science – BSc in Psychology from The Open University.

You can find Verity Bramwell on…

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/verity-bramwell-77168314a/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/veritybramwell

Zero Suicide Alliance: https://www.zerosuicidealliance.com/

Papyrus: https://www.papyrus-uk.org/


[Roksana] My guest today is Verity Bramwell. She has an extensive personal history with suicide and mental health, being a four time suicide attempt survivor by the age of 27. She describes herself as not having many years of experience that much experience for her years, and it is as a result of the broad and very challenges she faced she has a unique insight into how communication and vulnerability between parents and their children can work to protect the whole family’s mental health and keep suicidal acts at bay. Verity joins me today to empower parents with actionable strategies for suicide prevention. Welcome Verity!

[Verity] Hi, thank you for having me.

[Roksana] You’re welcome, it’s a pleasure to have you. Verity I’d love you to share your back story. So four times survivor; how did that- what led to that?

[Verity] So, four suicide attempts but really at three ages so I made two attempts when I was 16, one attempt at 21, and one attempt at 25. They all kind of have different background elements in ways although there are shared themes throughout them all. At 16, it really wasn’t about me wanting to die but I didn’t know how else to express that I was struggling or that I wasn’t coping and I needed support. At 21, it was more a response to I guess a series of bereavement and trauma and I felt like I had no support system. I had zero self-worth and genuinely thought at that point that people would actually be better off without me because it really did feel like at that point, my reality was that nobody cared about me. That you know, that wasn’t other people’s reality but that was my reality at that point. And then at 25, I think this time around I actually spiralled a lot quicker than my previous attempts. Looking at my previous attempts, there were periods of weeks or months where on reflection, you could see that I was really really struggling, but my 4th suicide attempt I probably spiralled from reasonably OK to absolute worst in about 3 days. And that was kind of following- I’d left situations that were on unhealthy for me. So I’d left my marriage which, after leaving, I kind of came to the conclusion had been abusive. I had been estranged from my mum but we’d built or relationship but really I was still coming to terms with lots of issues or actually probably more to the point avoiding lots of issues. There was still an awful lot of self work that I needed to do on myself that I hadn’t done. I was just like, right I’m free of these unpleasant situations so I’m going to live my best life, without actually doing any of the kind of groundwork to enable that to be sustainable.

[Roksana] What led to you having all of these feelings by the age of 16?

[Verity] Childhood was challenging in many ways. My dad was disabled, so he had a stroke before I was born, so for kind of the whole of my childhood he was disabled and therefore communication with him was challenging. He spoke in what you can only really describe as almost his own little mini language, in that he spoke English but for him certain phrases meant certain things. It also meant that for my mum, she in many ways effectively had two children. So she was kind of looking after my dad and being his carer, and then looking after me as a small child and she soldiered on and so you know my entire childhood was just her putting me and my dad first, and then everybody else as well… so if there was anyone in the family that needed anything growing up, you know in my teens if my friends needed anything… “Mum, can you help?” and the answer was always “Yes”. So I think an important element that I’ve only actually been more reflecting on recently is thinking about social learning theory. For anyone that isn’t familiar with it, I really recommend just having a Google, but basically I grew up watching my mum put everyone else first and not really practising self-care. She didn’t you know, she didn’t say no. If I wanted something, she would always do her best to give it to me, and the same with my dad… which was lovely in a way, but I think at some point you know I then observed that behaviour and somewhere down the line internalised that self-care was selfish.

[Roksana] Yeah I can see that. I can see how you would make that connection, because your mum wasn’t showing herself any self-care and the assumption you made was that she didn’t want to come across  as selfish.

[Verity] Yes. and really it comes back in many ways I guess to communication. And I think as parents –  I mean I’m guessing cause I’m not a parent – but I can imagine you do beat yourself up about it… you know you punish yourself and feel guilty for saying no, and not always being 100% attentive, but actually I think that whole attitude needs to change and we need to understand the value of communicating to our partners and to our children… you know what actually no, mummy needs half an hour to look after mummy. and I think that’s actually really, really important because how do we expect our children to practise self-care when we don’t model it to them?

[Roksana] Absolutely. I agree 100%, and I know that a lot of my listeners are mums who will be listening to that thinking nodding their head… because we all struggle to say no to our children, it’s like this Mum Guilt takes over and rather than feeling that, we’d rather sacrifice our own self-care to not have to cope with our child either kicking off or disappointing them and it’s kind of- it’s really cruel because it’s almost hard wired into us to want to say yes.

[Verity] Yes and the sad thing is, you know, we all want to say yes for all the right reasons, but actually I think looking back if my mum had said no to me and my dad a bit more and really kind of asserted her own time and space… you know I’m sure as a preteen and probably a bit as a teen I might have been you know annoyed, but that that annoyance is temporary. Whereas for me, my lack of self-care has been a very permanent fixture in most of my childhood and early adult life, and it’s something that I’ve had to work very hard at overcoming and overriding.

[Roksana] Why do you think your mum was sort of martyring on and showing you that she was coping?

[Verity] Well I think there probably were plenty of times where to stop and take a break would maybe have broken her… you know she’s so busy treading water and keeping her head above water that actually to do anything different to break that routine and that rhythm might have been really challenging for her. And I also think… you know they made a conscious decision to have a child knowing that my dad was going to be disabled, so I don’t know if there was kind of an element of that she felt like she owed it to me to do everything she could to ensure that my childhood was the best it possibly could be, despite the fact that my dad was disabled, and that she didn’t want to let me down I guess and let him down or let herself down.

[Roksana] So what was school like for you?

[Verity] School was quite challenging because having a dad that’s disabled, even though I probably couldn’t have articulated it you know in primary school, it is something you’re very conscious of. And you know you hear about what other kids have done with their dads at the weekend and my weekends were probably nowhere near like theirs. And actually as as a primary school aged child, I was so similar to my dad and we fought like cat and dog because we were as stubborn as each other. And then I was bullied in primary school and in secondary school, but I actually think it was the bullying in secondary school that to some extent was more the nail in the coffin… because I think as a young child I’d always been quite outgoing and confident and talkative and maybe my family, extended family always used to joke that I would never shut up. I was the child that was always chatting away and then in secondary school, that got me negative attention and I was always told that I was always talking about myself and I was self-centred, so I think that coupled with watching my mum putting everybody else first almost created this phobia of being seen as selfish.

[Roksana] I can see how your mind connected those two together.

[Verity] You know, it was just unfortunate in that nobody was to know that you know my mum’s stoicism coupled with the particular line the bullies took in secondary school would have that result, but I think that’s probably really what confirmed all of my self-beliefs about self-care and putting other people first.

[Roksana] Were you able to tell your mum and dad about the bullying in secondary school or was- did you just keep it to yourself?

[Verity] I think they knew, but I think- bullying is a really difficult thing because whatever as a parent or whatever as a school you do… often it isn’t that helpful. You know it is a very challenging situation to try and resolve, and you know if the school is lenient because they don’t want to make it worse you feel as the victim like you’re not supported if the school comes down really hard on the bullies that can often make the bullying worse. So I think it was again it was just kind of soldier through really… I mean it I was fortunate in that it did come to and end in year 10 so I actually got through kind of GCSEs without it. But I think by then a lot of the damage had been done in terms of my attitudes towards looking after myself, or not looking after myself. And communication was tricky you know that when I was in secondary school, my mum had a disabled husband and a teenager and she worked full time. She worked in a pupil referral unit so for the students that either get excluded or are at risk of exclusion from mainstream school. So her day job was obviously quite demanding, quite emotionally taxing, so I think I really just bottled things up.

[Roksana] You weren’t reaching out to her for as much support as you probably needed.

[Verity] Exactly, and I don’t think I knew how to I think. It wasn’t just that I didn’t, I don’t think I even knew how to communicate that I needed help because in a way, I’d never seen that happen or be done.

[Roksana] In hindsight (hindsight is 2020), but in hindsight, if you had reached out to her, what do you think she would have been able to do for you?

[Verity] I think we could have just had more open channels of communication. I mean I was never the best at being open and even now I’m aware of that and have to work hard to be as open as I can be. I’m more open than I used to be but it’s still definitely not an easy thing for me… but I think having that encouragement and having the option of knowing sometimes you can’t- you just can’t raise it yourself… if someone else asks you questions, it’s a lot easier for you to answer them for you to go to someone with open- this is how I’m feeling… have someone ask you more specific questions about what’s going on, I think enables or it makes it easier for you to communicate how you’re feeling rather than just being asked, “So what’s going on?”

[Roksana] Okay. So you were saying, Verity, your first attempt was aged 16?

[Verity] Yes.

[Roksana] Yes, so talk me through what led to that and what else were you- whether any other behaviours going on in terms of any self-harming behaviours, or anything else that you were doing that were signs that you were definitely feeling suicidal?

[Verity] Yes so I was self-harming, not to the same extent that I did in my 20s, but again it was more… I don’t like the term ‘cry for help’, because most people use it in my opinion incorrectly. When I say my self-harm and my suicide attempts at 16 were a cry for help, it wasn’t that you know you can label me as an attention seeker, but it was simply that was the only way I knew how to express that I needed help. I think I was very good at masking it, to be honest, and I threw myself I guess my coping strategy was just throwing myself into fixing other people as you like… I felt like I guess I couldn’t fix me but at least I could help and fix other people… and that became I guess really something I really channelled everything into, when I was the friend that everybody came to and I guess at least that made me feel like in those moments that I had- I was providing some value and also you know reaffirmed that I wasn’t selfish and self-centred like the bullies had said I was.

[Roksana] Right, right, I see. So you started becoming the person who was helping other people as opposed to being what they labelled you as in terms of self-centred or anything like that?

[Verity] Yes. I did choose voluntarily to start smoking at 13- well I had my first cigarette at 13. I was probably wasn’t a really regular smoker until 15/16, and my mum even to this day remains quite convinced that it was peer pressure… actually it was nothing to do with peer pressure, but it was to do with having control and smoking was something that I could control.

[Roksana] So that was- so you were age 16 when you had your first attempt, and that thankfully didn’t work. What were the- what was the repercussions of that in your family, in your household?

[Verity] It was very hushed up, really. The taboo around suicide has reduced from me being 16 to me being 25 significantly, but it was very- we didn’t really we didn’t talk about it to outsiders. I was referred to CAMHS, but I was not willing to engage because even though… I guess it maybe comes back to I still didn’t actually know how to express what was wrong or what was going on or what I was feeling. I maybe was unwilling to because of this idea that you know you just needed to push on through, and so by accepting help, that was not the right thing to do because I should be able to cope without help I guess. So I agreed to go to a CAMHS meeting. I’m really- I probably wasn’t the most helpful patient they’d seen, but I just don’t think I knew how to verbalise what was going on.

[Roksana] What was your parents’ reaction?

[Verity] I think my dad was angry, but kind of obviously coz of his disability and stuff, communication with him wasn’t clear at the best of times. I think my mum probably felt frustrated because I I feel like she felt like she had sacrificed so much in always putting me and my dad first, and I think maybe saw it as a criticism of her parenting as in she done something wrong which I think is really really common and I used to talk a lot to parents about, you know if your child is struggling with their mental health or has a mental illness, it is not because you’re a bad parent most of the time. You know obviously there are cases where it can be, but in general there’s so many other factors going on. You know if I hadn’t gone through the bullying that I went through in secondary school, would I have internalised self-care is selfish to the same extent I did? So you know yes I’m sitting here and saying she should have done more for herself, but that’s cause I now understand the impact it had on me. I didn’t know that was going to be the impact at the time, nor did she.

[Roksana] Yeah, and even after your attempt, you were- when you were referred to CAMHS, you were still modelling the behaviour that you’d learnt as a child to not engage in seeking any kind of help to heal and recover.

[Verity] Yeah definitely. And actually even after my third attempt, after my dad died, I agreed once I was discharged from hospital to agree to bereavement counselling. And I did, I was willing, but I wasn’t- I still wasn’t 100% engaged… and I look back on that and whilst it was useful, and it was helpful, I think I could have been pushed harder.

[Roksana] And when you say you could have been pushed harder, what would have been- what would have been a healthy push to help you?

[Verity] I just think in the way that- I mean it’s you know, I don’t envy being a counsellor, knowing you know what point is is helpful for someone to talk about their feelings and what they’ve been through and at what point does it almost become you know re-triggering to them, and that must be a really fine line… but I  think in terms of- I think of myself like an onion, and whilst he kind of scraped back you know two or three layers, he didn’t really get to the really deep layers and I still didn’t really express or manage to express how- what I’d felt in childhood and what the impact had been on me. I gave just enough to keep him happy, to make him feel like I was engaging without fully engaging. I don’t know if that makes sense.

[Roksana] Yeah it does makes sense… so you were kind of almost – I’m not going to say the word manipulation in its negative sense – but just you were able, even in that situation, able to manipulate the meetings and the discussions so that you didn’t have to fully surrender and accept help in its fullest sense.

[Verity] 100%. And it was like that after my third suicide attempt when I was assessed by the… which is the kind of adult crisis team, you know I gave them enough to make them go away. It was only really after my fourth attempt where I actually ended up in a coma in intensive care with a do-not-resuscitate order on me, and when I woke up – I really wish I could explain why and unfortunately I can’t which isn’t very helpful for other people – but it was as simple as a switch had flicked in my head and I realised that I was running on four to five year cycles. So my suicide attempts were somewhere between four and five years apart. And basically I was doing was whilst I might have been making small improvements in places, I still was not looking after myself… so I put everybody else first but I could only sustain that for you know four to five years and then I would crash and I would burnout… and if I didn’t make changes, it was nothing to do with anyone else, if I didn’t make changes I would be dead in five years. You know, 2022 I would have been dead by and I still stand by that. It really was an attitude switch in that, okay so I might be like this for lots of different reasons and I might have been unfortunate in that I’ve experienced quite a lot of bereavement and trauma, but at the end of the day, if I want something different, I need to do things that I’ve not done before.

[Roksana] I would love to know, Verity, what were those things that came up for you initially as a “these are the things I need to do to take care of myself/this is what I need to build into my life that doesn’t exist at the moment”?

[Verity] I needed to learn to say no, ‘cause I was very much the person, “oh Verity can you do me a favour?” “Yes”, without even knowing what it was. I’d already put up myself, so I had to learn the word no… and I started with little things because I wasn’t ready to say no to other things, but slowly changing my mindset in that saying no doesn’t make me selfish. One of the things I did that probably had the biggest impact on me was after my 3rd suicide attempt, I changed my screen my mobile phone screen background to, “you have to put your own oxygen mask on first”, but especially thinking about that in terms of being a parent you know, kind of emergency aeroplane guidance is ‘do not stop and put your children’s oxygen masks on before your own’ because although to you at that moment your child’s survival is more important than yours, what happens if you only get it on halfway, or have only put on one of your children’s masks and then you run out of oxygen? And then you’re not any use to anybody? And it really changed- it forced me to change my understanding of self-care and that actually self-care isn’t selfish; it’s to do with survival… and if I want to help other people, I have to ensure that I survive in the first place to be able to do.

[Roksana] Amazing. I mean I think that’s something that a lot of my mum listeners will relate to. I think we’re notorious for putting our children’s needs before our own and I think that you know that emergency messages make sure you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, is something that I think we have to learn to do and I think it’s really hard at times when you’re busy and stressed and you’re coping with life to actually just take a minute. Just take a minute to yourself and think about what you need to build your strength.

[Verity] And it also relates to you know by them doing that, they are modelling that to their children. So therefore their children are far more likely to practice their own self-care and put their own mask on as they grow up and they go into adulthood.

[Roksana] One of the things, Verity, that you’ve talked about, is suicide is complex. It’s not going to be the same for any two people that have suicidal thoughts or tendencies or have experienced it and survived, but I’m just wondering if there are particular strategies or conditions that parents or families can think about creating if they don’t exist at the moment, or just being mindful of… that you would say these are some of the things that if you can work on, they may help prevent suicide.

[Verity] Yeah I think you know relating to modelling self-care, we also need to model being vulnerable and asking for support. I didn’t know how to express that I was struggling and ask for support because I’ve never seen my mum do it. I can’t say for sure because I don’t know, but I imagine that had I actually grown up with her having a really bad day, and her coming in and saying you know what actually I’ve had a really bad day, I can’t cope with cooking tea for us all right now, can you do us baked beans on toast for dinner… or can you just give me half an hour whilst I run myself a bubble bath because I need to take a time out… or even you know maybe I’ve got- I’ve got a job interview tomorrow and I’m really, really nervous about it. And just actually allowing your children to provide you with some support because that doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you a bad parent, what you’re actually doing is empowering them to be that person but also to see how they can be the vulnerable person themselves.

[Roksana] And I guess you’re also giving them a language that they can then use when they’re having vulnerable moments… when they’re having issues in their own lives.

[Verity] Yeah and you know by the time we’re in adulthood, we are far more used to being overwhelmed than children are because we’ve been through it most of you know many many times. So therefore it is probably slightly easier for us to express that, and in doing so is exactly what you said, we are giving young people a language to allow them to do it themselves when maybe their experience of going through those ups and downs and getting through that overwhelm even to the same extent as ours as adults.

[Roksana] And I think of as a parent, I mean I’m a parent to two children, I often think about things that are going on that may benefit them from hearing about but the same time it’s really hard to make the call because you kind of don’t want them to feel worried or have anxiety. A typical example is with what’s been going on with COVID19 which we’re still all in the midst of… how much do you share with children? How much is- how much is safe? How much is going to help them grow as people and give them a language and how much might send them into some kind of anxiety? I think that’s quite tricky for parents to suss out.

[Verity] It is really, really tricky. With COVID at the moment, my personal thoughts are, it’s about being open but optimistic. So there is absolutely nothing wrong with sitting down with your children and saying you know there’s this really scary virus, or you know whatever age appropriate language you want to use, that is making lots of people poorly… and for lots of people this is scary and it’s making them anxious or sad, because we need to normalise being anxious you know, being anxious is a normal human thing that actually exists to keep us alive. You know if humans didn’t feel anxiety, we would have been extinct many, many years ago… but it’s also about saying you know, yes it is scary and I am anxious at times, but actually these are things that I can do to help me feel better. I can talk to you daddy, your mummy, I can you know practise self-care, I can do some meditations and breathing techniques or yoga, I can have a cuddle with my teddy bear and I can watch you know, a feel-good film or TV show or listen to music. So it’s about being open and transparent about, there are lots of things in the world that will present challenges to us, but actually that’s okay. What isn’t okay, or what isn’t healthy, is going through and trying to face all of those challenges completely on your own. If your only strategy is stiff upper lip, stiff upper lip and just keep pushing through, that’s where the message I personally think is wrong.

[Roksana] If we are the first ones to have that conversation with our children, then we get to decide how they how they internalise that. How they respond and react to that. We get to choose the language so that it doesn’t send them into a high state of anxiety that they feel is unmanageable and I think that’s really important because I’ve had times where my daughter’s come home from school and they’ve been watching Newsround, and then she will come home and tell me things are going on in the news that I don’t even know about because I haven’t watched the news since 2011, and so it’s really difficult because now she’s got a narrative in her head that’s come from a news channel, and then obviously the teacher’s talked about it and the other children have talked about it, and now she’s worrying about it. And I’m like, actually I wish I’d known that so we could have had a conversation before.

[Verity] Yeah, and by doing that, you become their safe space to discuss challenging things. Things that make them worry, things that make them upset, things that make them anxious. And if you can be that safe space for them as a younger child then they’re far more likely to carry on doing that as they go into their teens. Now you know 100%, there are going to be things that your teenagers do not come home and tell you, even if you have the best relationship in the world with them. You know as adults, did you go home and you know the first time you drank alcohol, if applicable, or the first time you had sex, did you run home and tell your parents? No you didn’t, because that’s generally not what children do, but it is about getting them to see you as their safe space. And often you know these other behaviours that they won’t talk to us about can be coping methods or just you know them exploring risk-taking behaviours because of other things, but if you’re that safe space where you can have calm conversations with them about things that are scary, then they’re far more likely to come to you about the reasons that they they now might be experimenting with alcohol or sexual behaviours.

[Roksana] There will be things that teenagers in particular want to keep private because it is their prerogative to maintain some privacy… it’s part of kind of stepping into adulthood isn’t it? At the the same time I was thinking about how parents can create an opportunity for further connection and communication with their child. So it’s one there’s a one of your first point is around being vulnerable yourself being open about your own emotions so you’re giving children or your children a language and the your modelling that we should talk about our feelings and what’s going on with us, I’m just wondering how do parents create- how do we create the opportunities for communication and connection on a regular basis, so it’s not something one of these kind of family meetings that’s called and it feels really awkward and nobody knows how to communicate with each other- how do you create that environment?

[Verity] I think you start by doing it yourself… so when you’ve had a bad day at work or at home or you know, wherever you’ve been, you have a chat with them about that and that’s setting the tone so then when you say to them “how’s your day been”, it feels less like an interrogation because actually you started and you shared first. I think that it’s really really challenging for parents because they are your children so they are the beings in the world that you feel most emotional about, but for when it’s talking about difficult subjects such as bullying or self-harm or feeling suicidal, I touched on before how parents default reaction to that most of the time is what have I done wrong? And they are battling their own emotions and actually that’s really counterproductive for those conversations because parents are trying to protect their children and their children are trying to protect their parents so if your child does come to you with something and you get angry, stressed, worried, crying – all of those things in that moment – that decreases the likelihood that they’re gonna come to you because they they don’t want to cause that for you. So it’s about if your child does raise something with you that is invoking strong emotions in you that’s going to interfere in you being able to have a kind of calm conversation with them, it’s about saying I’m really glad that you came to me about this and this is really important, but I want to be able to have a kind of a productive and helpful and calm conversation with you about this, and I don’t want to let you know my emotions kind of lead it or get in the middle… so therefore what I would really like is for us to say we are going to talk in two hours or on Wednesday when we both have plenty of time so we’re not in a rush, and we both thought about what you said so we’re not reacting kind of knee jerk out of emotion. It is about you know yes we need to be vulnerable but at the same time in these situations, that’s when our children need us to be coolheaded and as objective as possible.

[Roksana] And there will be some parents who are probably listening and thinking goodness if my child told me that they were having suicidal thoughts, or they were self-harming or being severely bullied to the point that they were just miserable, at that point what would your advice be to parents about how to collect their thoughts and maybe any support that they should seek to gather themselves and be ready to have a productive, healthy, wholesome conversation?

[Verity] Far from something easy to do and it takes kind of practise and skill. In terms of talking about suicide and having those conversations, there all a variety of kind of different charities that provide training and resources on that and for parents that want to do something you know kind of now, there is the Zero Suicide Alliance which has free online training. For more of a local offer in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, you’ve got the OLLIE foundation which provides training on suicide awareness and intervention… but you also have resources such as Papyrus. So Papyrus are the National youth suicide prevention charity and they run a helpline which is for anybody up to 35 feeling suicidal or anyone worried about someone up to 35 years old… so if you, you know your child come home and kind of told you about this and you have followed this advice and you said right we’re going to talk about this tomorrow evening when we’ve got plenty of time you can then go away and call Papyrus and have a chat with them and they are really well placed to give you advice. Likewise, Young Minds has a parental helpline which people can call as well. And it is just remembering how they’re feeling and where their mental health is at, is not by any means a pure reflection of you as a parent. It doesn’t mean that you’ve done things wrong or that you’ve let them down, like we’ve discussed there are so many different factors that contribute, it’s trying to remember that if you react out of emotion, actually they are less likely to come to you with things in the future, and you don’t want that because you want that openness and that honesty. I think it’s probably really difficult but just thinking about… try and try and think about the interactions you had as a teenager with your parents and what did you find helpful? What would you have responded to well and what would you not?

[Roksana] That’s so much good advice there and so many amazing charities that I will make sure are mentioned and written in the show notes for this podcast episode. On a final note, Verity, where are you now and how are things going for you? What’s your kind of vision for your future?

[Verity] I’m really, really in a positive place and it’s, you know, it’s been a lot of hard work to get here but I think now really at my foundation is self-care. And self-care for me is about when things get difficult, as life you know inevitably does at times, you haven’t given away all your internal resources to other people. So you have enough to get you through that challenging time along with finding and accepting the right support for you so I work really hard at being open and honest and so I’ve got quite a lot of health issues at the moment, so I’ve had ME since I was 15, but I more recently have developed alopecia and I’ve just been diagnosed with arthritis which at 27 obviously isn’t ideal. And I have good days and I have bad days and it’s about making sure on those bad days that I do reach out to people. You know I’m still probably not the best at reaching out to family and my mum, but I am definitely a lot better at reaching out to my best friend. I no longer work within suicide prevention directly, but I guess I will always see myself as working in suicide prevention in one way. So I now actually work with problem gambling as a Youth Outreach Officer to educate about gambling and the risks of problem gambling for young people. And out of all the addictions, gambling actually has the highest suicide rates. So whereas before I was kind of working I guess more to a critical phase, I’m now- I see myself working very much more at the really, you know the prevention- preventing people from ever getting there in the first place. So the future is bright; we take it day by day.