Celia Hulme, Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate and Dr Sarah Powell, Clinical Psychologist, talk about suicide and the lack of services for Deaf people.
When a Deaf person feels suicidal, how do they get help?
They can’t phone an emergency number because they can’t hear the person at the other end. They can’t use FaceTime or Skype to communicate because there are no trained BSL users to give crisis support.
And even though there is a need, there is still no known crisis team specifically set up to serve the Deaf community (despite a recommendation from Sign).
British Sign Language is a visual language, it has its own grammar and syntax and relies heavily on movement and space. Even if a service says they have text or email support, for many Deaf people it is still totally inaccessible.
If you feel suicidal and need emergency support, go to A&E.
Now imagine the difficulty they experience when trying to find an interpreter in a crisis situation.
When absolutely no notice can be given at all, how does a Deaf suicidal person get the help they so desperately need?
It is very difficult to know how many deaf people commit suicide, but the prevalence of mental health problems in deaf people is around twice that of hearing people. We also know that 21% of our BSL Healthy Minds clients, before receiving our help, have attempted suicide.
Some services do offer support that doesn’t rely on using a telephone, Samartians for example have an email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – but that’s as far as it goes.
Do you want to talk to someone about how you feel, in BSL? Email email@example.com (This is not a crisis service.)
Image Credit: Eflon