Larbert man doing his best to stop people taking their own lives
An emergency call handler is using his spare time to put up posters note-0designed to make people who feel at their lowest stop and realise there is hope and help available for them.
Thomas Valenitine, from Larbert said: “If what I’ve created only saves one life, then what I’ve done has been worth it - that’s my aim, to save lives, as one death to suicide is too many.
"I know how common suicide is becoming because I work as an emergency call handler with Scottish Ambulance Service. I can take several calls a shift for mental health emergencies, so I can see how bad it’s getting and the effect it has had on so many people.
"I have also lost family members and have had my own mental health problems in the past, so I can certainly relate to how people in crisis may be feeling and know any support at that time is crucial.
"Hopefully if people see these posters, then they’ll step back and make a call so they can be given the appropriate support."
When he is not on shift at the emergency call centre, Thomas has been lining Clackmannanshire and Kincardine bridges – know locations where people go to take their own life – with his posters and has also placed them on several motorway flyovers.
"I started doing this with the ultimate aim of preventing suicides. I put some contact details on the posters for the emergency services and the Samaritans. I’ve included the emergency services number on the posters as well as details for organisations like Breathing Space and NHS24.
"I also put messages of hope on them. You just want to make people think twice about committing suicide – it can sometimes be the smallest thing that can change a person's mind..”
He has also received information on his Facebook page from people about areas that could really use his posters.
People can contact him at [email protected] to request posters to place in their area and he will send them the materials, taking a note of the locations so he can go an replace them when they become worn through time.
Thomas has no doubt what was led to the increase in dificulties over the last year.
"There has definitely been an increase in suicides since COVID-19 came along. Before the outbreak we did take a lot of mental health calls, but it has now increased greatly.
“There are people who have been isolated from friends and family for so long and that cannot help. Hopefully with things opening back up again and people being able to see loved ones again things will improve a bit.”