AN arts project is aiming to help people who have attempted suicide, after concerns that the rates of people taking their own lives in St Helens is increasing.
Other Ways of Telling is led by drama company Collective Encounters, which uses theatre, music, storytelling and poetry to give people the strength to share their stories and perform.
St Helens public health department has joined forces with St Helens Council’s arts service to support the project, which also seeks to help relatives of people who have contemplated suicide.
The town’s annual health report for 2013 showed that suicide rates are increasing, and that more men have suicidal thoughts than women. The age group at greatest risk is 30 to 49.
The economy and changes to welfare are highlighted as troubles affecting St Helens people.
A survey for the north west placed the borough as having the third lowest score for mental wellbeing.
The drama group has previously performed at St Helens Central library and brought tears to the faces of the audience last year when its show Break Free was staged.
Public health leaders say people suffering from suicidal thoughts find it hard to put into words feelings of being overwhelmed and emotional.
They believe creating a place of acceptance, support and understanding people can begin the process of healing.
Speaking to people in similar situations also offers a source of non-judgemental support and understanding.
Liz Gaulton, director of public health for St Helens Council, said: “This is a fantastic illustration of how we in St Helens are applying a holistic approach to improving the health of our communities.
“The arts can be a shining example of effectively utilising non-traditional strategies and interventions, and it is for this reason that we are funding this excellent intervention.”
Other Ways Of Telling meets at St Helens Central Library on Wednesdays, from 5.15pm to 6.45pm. Refreshments are provided and help can be given with travel costs. The group is open to anyone over 18, and there is no obligation for anyone to have to perform.
For more information, contact Aidan Jolly on 07505 670420, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who does not feel comfortable attending a group may get the opportunity for one-to-one sessions.