Olly’s Future Trains Over 1,162 Medical Students In Suicide Prevention

In the past few months Olly’s Future has trained 445 future doctors at medical schools across the UK to help colleagues  and future patients who are thinking of suicide. 

The suicide prevention charity, established by Ann Feloy from Worthing, after losing her son Oliver (Olly) to suicide at the age of just 22, has been fighting to combat what is now the largest cause of death in the UK for men under the age of 45. 

Ann and her team (www.ollysfuture.org.uk) have been working with medical professionals, teachers, students and police officers to raise awareness of suicide and equip them with how to start a conversation to help save a life.

The charity’s vision is a world where no young person loses their life to suicide and since 2021, has delivered Dr SAMS (Suicide Awareness to Medical Students) to 1,162 students at four medical schools as part of the core curriculum. These are the University of Exeter, Kent and Medway, Brighton and Sussex and University College London. 

Ann created the initiative after finding out that suicide prevention skills were not taught as part of the medical degree course. 

She said, “Our programme helps medical students look after their own wellbeing while studying, and save lives from suicide when they qualify as doctors. This is the third year we have been delivering Dr SAMS. It’s my aim to see all medical schools provide suicide prevention training as part of the core curriculum. This work is all part of my beloved son’s legacy and, I believe, it will stop other people losing their lives to suicide.”

Professor Ian Fussell at the University Exeter Medical School said: “We’re delighted to continue to work with Olly’s Future to roll out the Dr SAMS programme once again to raise suicide awareness among medical students. We value the skill and sensitivity of the team delivering this vitally important education package and know that our students and staff really benefit and appreciate this”.

Olly’s Future was awarded funding from the British Medical Association to help towards the costs of running the initiative, which comprises of three parts:   

  1. Talking About Suicide: Ten Tools: a 90-minute taught session where participants learn the skills to spot the signs of someone struggling with their mental health, ask about suicide  and  help the person get support. 
  1. CareSpaces: a 90 minute taught session aimed at developing self-compassion, resilience and self-reflection.  The session is based on the NHS Compassion Circles model. Students are put into break out groups in pairs during the session to practise listening and  appreciation and share their approaches to self-care.
  1. Mental Health Open Mic Night: Is the third optional part which takes place in a cafe on campus. Students have the chance to take the mic to share their experiences of their own mental health, listen to others and feel supported by their peers.  

Students gave the following feedback:

On ‘Talking about Suicide: Ten Tools’. 

I found it very useful as it gives us a framework to work though when we are faced with a situation where a patient or someone we know is thinking of taking their life. For me, I know I would go blank and not be able to do anything. However, this training session has taught me ways that I can approach these situations. I also get quite nervous about asking about suicide as it is a very uncomfortable topic to talk about but never the less, very important to pick up. I think I can be more confident in spotting and initiating a conversation in order to help someone and prevent them from taking their own life

On the ‘CareSpace’. 

I loved the fact that we can share in a safe environment. It helped me realise that I am not the only person with these problems. But also talking to someone who I may not be very familiar with was very lovely.

For more information about the initiative  go to https://ollysfuture.org.uk/dr-sams-suicide-awareness-in-medical-students/ 

Or contact

Ella Spurgeon 

Engagement & Communications Coordinator 

[email protected] 

Mobile: 07760922624

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Twitter: @OllysFuture

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