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Bedfordshire PhD student helps host first suicide summit in Luton

Suicide Summit

Tue 5th September, 2017

A PhD student from the University of Bedfordshire hosted the first suicide awareness summit in Luton.

Jolel Miah, along with his charity Our Minds Matter and the Luton Suicide & Self-Harm Partnership Group, hosted the summit to raise awareness of suicide and educate the community on how to spot the signs that someone might need help.    

Guests had the chance to hear from those who have personal experience of suicide, including mental health campaigner Ben Salmons, who recently received an honorary Doctorate from the University for his work with mental health services.

Visitors could also take part in taster sessions on mental health first aid and suicide prevention and awareness so they would be able to help someone in distress in the future.

Jolel, who is studying a PhD in Behavioural & Health Psychology at the University, said: “We want to build community resilience to suicide and mental ill-health by encouraging people to have open conversations. Suicide can be a very difficult subject to discuss, but the more we normalise talking about it, the less taboo is becomes.

“Psychology teaches us that when we experience a new thought or feeling, we somehow feel alien to it and therefore carry out avoidant behaviours like not talking about it or social isolating ourselves. The key thing to consider is that we should be able to spot the signs early and learn effective coping strategies and this could come from the wider society such as friends or family.  When it comes to stigma, it is not the individual’s behaviour or attitude that really needs to change, it’s a change in the understanding of those around them that is needed.”

The summit was supported by many organisations including Luton Council and the Luton Clinical Commissioning Group (Luton CCG).

Luton CCG’s Clinical Director for Health Dr Anthea Robinson said: “We want the people of Luton to know that there is always another option to suicide. The summit was an excellent opportunity for the people of Luton to share their experiences or to get advice to help a family member, partner or friend who they may be worried about.” 

Photo caption: From left to right: ELFT Break The Stigma Campaign Lead Ben Salmons, ELFT peer support worker Millie Smith and Bedfordshire PhD student Jolel Miah.


  • The Luton Suicide & Self-Harm Partnership Group is made up of a range of organisations aiming to prevent suicide and self-harm in Luton and helping to achieve a safer Luton.

Bedfordshire University

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