Mental health service for military veterans supports suicide awareness campaign

October 2, 2019

David Powell

A nurse who heads a Trust mental health service for military veterans has urged people thinking of taking their own lives to talk to someone.

“Two or three minutes of conversation could save your life,” said David Powell, lead of the East Anglia Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS).

“Just pick up the phone and have a chat, even if it’s with the milkman, the lady next door or the guy you buy your newspaper from. Have that interaction.”

David spoke as he backed the Trust’s suicide awareness and prevention campaign, which is urging people to download the free self-help app Stay Alive and complete the 20-minute online training course offered by the Zero Suicide Alliance.

“People who are lonely, sad and demoralised see no hope, but conversation costs nothing and can make the difference,” said the former lance corporal, who is based at The Lakes mental health unit on the site of Colchester General Hospital.

“It’s about having the belief to get through the next five minutes, then the next 10, and then the next hour.

“They can then phone one of the numbers in their back pocket or use the Stay Alive app to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about.”

David’s team helps ex-servicemen and women who have either been discharged from the Armed Forces with mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or who encounter these problems later in life.

Although their clients may feel paralysed by pride, fear of failure or a mistaken belief they are letting people down, the service helps them find therapy for their trauma and reintegrates them into Civvy Street.

“Every life is worth it, whatever one person may think at a particular point in time,” said David, a clinical lead nurse specialist who has worked for the Trust for 20 years.

“It’s worth it for what that person has done, what they are doing and what they are going to do.”