Hertfordshire charity combats teenage suicide with mental health training in schools

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As a father who lost his son to suicide, Stuart Falconer is working in partnership with Herts council to implement a strategy in schools for mental health.

Herts has one of the lowest suicide rates in the country, with an average of 6.6 deaths per 100,000 people between 2013-15 compared to the national average of 10.1 deaths, according to council figures.

The council’s suicide prevention strategy brings together voluntary organisations with the public and private sector to make sure that figures keep reducing.

Stuart, who set up the OLLIE (One Life Lost Is Enough) Foundation in 2016 said: “The public health department’s suicide strategy six or seven years ago didn’t gain any momentum. I wanted to start a form of mental health standards in schools to address not just suicide prevention but mental health and resilience.

“I want to introduce a type of kitemark that could be adopted in all schools. It involves suicide prevention training to professionals working with young people, monitoring children’s wellbeing, and providing access to council services and bereavement services.”

The OLLIE Foundation has provided training for around 20 to 30 schools in Hertfordshire since beginning this project. The training can be done by parents, teachers, schools, and sports and youth clubs.

Stuart said: “We provide suicide prevention training so those difficult conversations are more accessible because sometimes when you suffer with a death, you are not always immediately ready to deal with it. It can take some time.”

Stuarts aims to create a kitemark where schools can sign-post their mental health training but it is still at an early stage of planning.

For more information or to volunteer visit the website www.theolliefoundation.org