Changing the conversation about health

Connecting with People training

CoM Tags:

empathy, compassion, training, College of Medicine, suicide prevention

  Connecting with People is evidence-based training for healthcare professionals in suicide and self harm prevention.
The training is tailored for different clinical specialties.It aims to increase empathy, reduce stigma and enhance participants’ ability to compassionately respond to someone who has suicidal thoughts or following self harm. This programme supports the development of a common language, promoting a more integrated response across statutory services, third sector providers and communities.
Year established
Number of staff
Number of users
Approximately 200/year currently. This will expand substantially as we disseminate our Train the Trainer programme
Is there a charge to users?
Yes, varying charges – contact the project for details.
What makes your project sustainable?
Wherever possible the training can be delivered on site, reducing impact on staff time, travel requirements and the environment.Having attended a Train the Trainer day there are no further costs attached to delivering the training during the 24 month license period We do not charge a license fee in order to promote sustainability and encourage dissemination of the training. Additionally although the clinical tool usGavined in the training have been copyrighted there is no fee, we simply ask that to ensue good Clinical Governance that they are only used by individuals who have received the training, and again no fee is charged.Attendance at the Train The Trainer event will enable the participant to teach others to use the tools so that they can be integrated into a team or locality as required.The only ongoing cost will be attending a mandatory half day ‘top up’ training every 24 months to ensure that the quality and impact of delivery is maintained, incorporate any new evidence based practice, add any new tools, share new learning and feedback on any successes or difficulties. Following each train the trainer programme we set up an email network to provide peer support and supervision between trainers
We propose that the current process of assessing and responding to suicidal individuals needs revising. The data from the National Confidential Inquiry demonstrates that the majority of individuals known to specialist mental health services who ended their life by suicide were judged as ‘low risk’ during their last consultation.The current preoccupation with characterising and quantifying risk and then ‘managing it’ is paradoxically increasing risk as practitioners may be too scared to identify risk (Cole-King and Lepping 2010).Benefits of this approach:• The concept of Suicide mitigation is a paradigm shift in the assessment of and response to suicidal individuals.
• It is a novel, empathic, realistic and person-centred alternative to the current concept of ‘management’ of suicide risk.
• Risk assessment should be seen as a therapeutic intervention with the potential to save lives, rather than simply an information gathering exercise.
• Instead of focusing on quantifying and characterising risk, the emphasis should be on identifying the patient’s needs and empowering them to accept help, reducing their distress and maximising protective factors and reasons for living through co-creation of a risk mitigation plan and the instillation of hope.
• This approach emphasises the degree of ambivalence felt by many suicidal individuals and challenges the common perception that it is not possible for someone without specialist psychiatric knowledge and training to help a suicidal individual resist their suicidal thoughts.
• This approach promotes practitioners and carers to engage and collaborate with patients in a positive person-centred therapeutic relationship to diligently assess and mitigate risk.


How does it share the College’s ethos?
The Connecting with People training is fully aligned to all the values of the College of Medicine below:Service

  • Committed to the common good, transcending self interest and professional self protection.
  • Focusing on the patient in front of them.
  • Involving users in the development and day-to-day running of the project



  • Practicing a form of appropriate evidence based medicine.
  • Committed to ongoing audit and evaluation.



  • Promoting an integrated and holistic approach that includes body, mind and spirit.
  • Exploring and extending patients’ ability to help themselves improve their own and their family’s health and well-being.
  • Aiming to maximise the wellbeing of the local community.
  • Taking into account the wider determinants of health such as nutrition, education and the environment.
Read user feedback from the course here.The whole ethos underpinning the Connecting with People training is that it places the importance of compassion and person centred care at its heart. It has been designed to engage the ‘hearts and minds’ of attendees, take away the fear of talking to a suicidal person, demystify the process of assessing and responding to suicidal thoughts and provide user friendly clinical tool to support a clinical assessment. The training also emphasises the importance of the co-creation of a safe plan with the suicidal individual.Additionally it shares the importance of common humanity when talking to suicidal people and introduces important aspects of a risk assessment not usually covered during suicide awareness training ie myths and stigma, organisational and professional barriers to responding to suicidal patients and the importance of self care.The training has been delivered to people with lived experience of suicidal thoughts and their carers and they have also been involved in shaping some of the final content of the training. For example one of the key questions asked during the consultation with the Involving People Network at NISCHR, was “What would you like your GP or mental health practitioner to know regarding talking to distressed and suicidal people?” and “How would you like your GP or mental health practitioner to respond if you tell them that you are experiencing suicidal thoughts?”


Explore the science here
This approach promotes practitioners and carers to engage and collaborate with patients in a positive person-centred therapeutic relationship to diligently assess and mitigate risk.We require an increase in understanding and empathy, reducing the stigma associated with self harm and suicidal thoughts. All practitioners can engage empathically with distressed and suicidal individuals using simple distress reducing techniques. This approach also aims to support the development of a common language, promoting a more integrated response across statutory services, third sector providers and communities.The approach also highlights the importance of using a holistic bio-psycho–social model of responding to an identified suicide risk. It promotes practitioners to collaborate with patients and their families/carers to co–create a person centred safety plan. This is ‘owned’ by the suicidal individual and it includes everything that the suicidal individual finds helpful ie including nutrition/lifestyle and environmental factors to support NICE evidenced- based treatment as usual.
Contact details
Louise Fisher-Resende
33 St James’s Square
t: 0203 170 8328