Listening Ear’s CEO Richard Brown joined Monica Haworth from the Chester branch of Survivors of Bereavement at an event in Chester to discuss why the language we use influences the way we think about suicide.

Hosted by Storyhouse, Chester’s new multi-purpose arts and creative centre, the event was part of a Festival of Languages which took place at the end of January 2019.

Pictured above are Monica, Claire Harrison from Cheshire West Voluntary Action and Richard, in what was a lively discussion with an audience drawn from across the region.

The conversation explored how the traditional term “committing suicide” is an unhelpful way to describe the act of suicide, rooted as it is in an era when it was seen as a crime. How the media chooses to report suicide can have a huge impact on how it’s perceived by the community at large, and audience members told their own stories of how press intrusion had impacted on them.  Richard outlined the practical help Listening Ear’s AMPARO can give when dealing with the media.

Monica related her own experience as a survivor of suicide, with a moving account of how she felt some friends and neighbours had shunned her, perhaps because of their inability to find the words to express what they felt. How to ‘normalise’ discussion about suicide was a feature of the contributions from audience members.

Speaking afterwards, Richard said he hoped there would be more opportunities to discuss issues around suicide and mental health as a whole: “It was encouraging to see so many people with an interest attending the event,” he said.

Taboo Stories took place on Saturday 26 January 2019.

Details of other events in the Festival of Languages can be found here.

You can find out more about AMPARO, Listening Ear’s groundbreaking suicide postvention service, here.