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Caithness campaign group to attend World Suicide Prevention Day event


By Alan Hendry

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Steven Szyfelbain hopes there will come a time when 'there is no longer a stigma on discussing our mental wellbeing'.
Steven Szyfelbain hopes there will come a time when 'there is no longer a stigma on discussing our mental wellbeing'.

A local campaign group will be attending a World Suicide Prevention Day event in Wick today as it continues to push for “better, stronger and more secure” mental health services in Caithness.

No More Lost Souls will be present at Wick railway station during a pop-up event coordinated by Railway Mission, James Support Group, from Cromarty, and the Listening Ear support service which has been established by Caithness Voluntary Group.

Railway Mission is a Christian faith-based charity offering independent, confidential, impartial pastoral care to the railway community.

Steven Szyfelbain, chairman of No More Lost Souls, said: "This will be a prime opportunity to engage with the services we have available here and bring greater awareness to the crisis we face.

"If there is one message that we would like to convey to all those battling with their mental health it is to please hold on – this world would be all the darker for losing your light, and you have every right to be here to be cared for with love, compassion and understanding.

"The simplest thing we can do for another is give them our time, and listen, and it is vital for this to be highlighted at events such as these.

"It is our fervent hope that our plea for better, stronger and more secure services in Caithness is heard by our elected officials and those in public office, and that there will come a time when there is no longer a stigma on discussing our mental wellbeing.

"This is why such events are important, and why we will continue to endorse them to the best of our ability."

ScotRail, Railway Mission and British Transport Police are collaborating with Listening Ear, James Support Group, Mikeysline and Samaritans to raise awareness of suicide prevention in the Highlands.

There will be pop-up stalls today at Wick and Thurso railway stations, and on Saturday at Inverness and Nairn. At the same time, there will be on-board train "conversation cafés" between Inverness and Elgin.

ScotRail fatigue manager Martine Gravil said: “With so many people these days struggling with mental health issues, it’s really important that we reach out to make a difference.

“The conversation cafés on board our trains are a great way of starting to talk to someone who might be vulnerable or feeling low.

“We’re really proud of our ScotRail staff who, along with volunteers from partner organisations, are chatting to passengers to raise awareness about mental health.

“It’s not counselling, but it does give those we speak to the confidence to ask their friends and family ‘How are you?’ as well as clear information about where they can get help for themselves and others if they need it.”

Julie Marker, Listening Ear project coordinator, said: "We are delighted to partner with Railway Mission and James Support Group in supporting World Suicide Prevention Day by doing two pop-up events at the railway stations.

"We are all united in supporting suicide prevention initiatives. We each have our own organisational aims and objectives but we share a passion for mental health. We hope this event with raise awareness of our charities, but most of all we want as many people as possible to know they can find someone to talk to when they are struggling."

The event falls in the same week as Listening Ear launches its new men's group – Caithness JIM. The group has been designed for men with the purpose of peer support and friendship.


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