First Ever Suicide Sermon in Blackburn Mosque
A Blackburn mosque became one of the first known institutes of its kind to hold a sermon on the issue of suicide among the BME community.
The talk on suicide awareness was held at Jamia Ghosia Masjid on Chester Street in Blackburn as part of the Baiter Sehat campaign by One Voice in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.
The subject of suicide was integrated into the sermon delivered at the Friday prayers on January 16th. The 15 minute talk discussed spotting the dangers of suicide and being aware of helping people.
Hussain Ali, an attendee at the mosque said,
“This masjid always delivers some excellent talks. I am really impressed that the issue of suicide within the Muslim community has been discussed today. I hope to hear more about these serious problems that can be discussed in our masjid.”
A member of the Community Restart Team told of the importance of delivering the message,
“The Community Restart Service wants to continue efforts to build links with Faith Sectors to develop effective ways for all our Communities to access Mental Health Services.”
One Voice has tackled a number of challenging health and well being areas as part of the award winning Baiter Sehat campaign. Operational Manager, Zaheer Mahmud, spoke of the difficulties of discussing this most sensitive of issues
“Initially we were unsure how the local community would engage with us on this very sensitive topic of Suicide. The focus group and the two Safe Talk training sessions went fantastically well and were attended by a broad range of people from the community,” said Zaheer.
“Then to have it culminate in a sermon at a local Masjid on a Friday exceeded all of our expectations and hopefully we have started the discussion in some sectors of our community in recognising the mainstream support available to those affected.”
It’s a Matter of Life and Death
One Voice has run two safeTALK training courses to raise the awareness of suicide among the BME community as part of the Baiter Sehat project, in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.
safeTALK is a training group that explores the symptoms of suicide. Volunteers are trained in a three hour session to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.
Jal Iqbal, Community Development Worker for Darwen Resource Centre said:
“safeTALK is a Living Works program that trains community members to recognise persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide intervention resources. These suicide alertness skills complement the skills of suicide intervention caregivers.
“Participants learn how to provide practical help to persons with thoughts of suicide in only a few hours. safeTALK prepares them to be alert helpers.”
The focus groups organised by One Voice were held in September and December.
It was agreed at the focus group that awareness and education needs to be highlighted about the subject in order to tackle suicide.
Kudsia Hussain who attended the talk said:
“One Voice invited me to a suicide workshop within the BME community. They delivered a fantastic workshop on suicide. It has definitely created more awareness. We did a safeTALK course based around the concept of Suicide Awareness For Everyone. I learnt some interesting facts and figures and feel confident to imply my skills should such circumstances occur.”
Zaheer Mahmud, Operation lead for the Baiter Sehat initiative said:
“We were concerned with the stigma surrounding suicide within our community, and with the support of Blackburn With Darwen Council had a focus group meeting two and a half months ago, which was attended by just over 15 people from within the community which included a local Imam.
“Many aspects were discussed surrounding the impact of suicide, not only to the individual but also the ramifications to the family, in some cases leaving unanswered questions and guilt. So it was decided to run Safetalk training session for people within the Asian community, empowering individuals to be able to assist and sign post people who they come across in their walk of life, who they considered to be potentially contemplating suicide.
“Due to the relatively high interest and success of our Safetalk training sessions, we are proud to announce that the local Imam will be delivering a sermon in the first week of January 2015 on a Friday, based around this issue in which he will also highlight and promote the local services who provide health and support to those who need it most.”
A total of 22 people attended the safeTalk sessions from a variety of communities, ages, and ethnicities.