Dublin Simon Community announces new initiative for homeless suicide prevention

Dublin Simon Community’s interim report finds that targeted interventions are successful in reducing suicidality

John Meehan, the Head of National Office for Suicide Prevention, today (13 June 2018) launched Dublin Simon Community’s interim report into interventions for suicidality by announcing funding for a ‘Homeless Specific Out of Hours Counselling Service’.

The report, “Opening the Door to Hope” which identified ways to support people who expressed suicidal ideation, found that targeted measures reduced the frequency of suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

Derek Dempsey, manager of Dublin Simon Community’s Sure Steps Counselling Service outlined the importance of out of hours support and interventions:

“The aim of our pilot was to identify ways to support people who expressed suicidal ideation with suitable, well established and proven interventions. In particular, we aimed to provide an alternative intervention to A&E for people in a crisis situation.

“The report identified, across all participants, a range of common factors found to influence suicidal presentations such as psychological pain, stress, agitation, hopelessness, self-hate and being homeless.

“We evaluated the implementation and effectiveness of the CAMS Approach (Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality) across a number of Dublin Simon Community’s homeless services. On completion of the pilot, we found there was a reduction in these contributing factors as well as a reduction in the frequency of suicidal thoughts and behaviours.”

Speaking at event, John Meehan announced funding for a ‘Homeless Specific Out of Hours Counselling Service’:

“The HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention is happy to announce the funding for a pilot ‘Out of Hours Counselling Service’ for Dublin Simon Community. We know that severe mental health difficulties are more prevalent among homeless people than the general population, with ample research and data to show that people who are homeless are at a greater risk of self-harm and suicide ideation. Our national strategy to reduce suicide in Ireland, Connecting for Life, reflects this in its targeted objectives and actions. The rate of self-harm presenting to hospital emergency departments between 2010 and 2014 was 22 times higher among the homeless population compared with those living at a fixed residence. However despite this, we know from research that varied interventions across the community and acute settings provide the best support for people who are homeless. Through their work in Sure Steps Counselling and the CAMS pilot, Dublin Simon Community highlighted how their approach and model can help those in crisis.”

Welcoming the funding, Derek Dempsey, stated:

“Many of the people we work with have been exposed to some form of previous trauma, and they can often have severe mental health and substance use issues. Through our daily work we see the urgent need for interventions, at any time of the day.

“The CAMS Approach complemented our person-centred therapeutic approach in Sure Steps very well. In our specific model of counselling, we relax some of the traditional barriers that often prevent clients experiencing homelessness from accessing mainstream counselling services. We have seen a significant uptake in this vital counselling service. Due to this increased demand, we have greatly expanded it over the past four years with over 3,000 one to one counselling hours now available yearly.

“The main success of this service is that counselling and support goes to where our clients are staying, with flexible session times and lengths. The CAMS Approach is a similarly collaborative and flexible approach where the counsellor, nurse, project worker etc. and client themselves engage in the process together and it is designed to form a strong clinical alliance while increasing client motivation.”

Full report can be viewed here.

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