Has a friend ever said "my life is just worthless"? You may be strong and grounded and able to cope, and you may be able to offer support to others. You may have a friend, a client, a relative or a colleague who tells you that s/he is considering suicide. Let us consider this and how you might response to such a disclosure. How do you respond? Take the disclosure very seriously. Do not try to cheer them up and ‘take them out of themselves’. Ask the direct question if s/he even obliquely mentions suicide, saying something like: “My life is just worthless”,“Sometimes I think that I just cannot go on”, “My family would be better without me”.The direct question you should ask is “Are you thinking of taking your own life?” If the answer is “No”, then you should listen empathetically to how s/he is feeling and notice and name the feelings s/he seems to be describing. Do not deny how s/he feels. For example, if s/he tells you s/he feels worthless and useless, do not tell them that s/he should not feel like that with their beautiful family, fantastic job, and gorgeous house. Accept that s/he feels like that and let them stay with those feelings and talk about them. You just listen. If the answer is “Yes, I have thought of suicide”. You should accept this calmly and hear the depth of the dark place s/he is in. You should then ask if s/he has a plan and let him talk about it if they have a plan. Again, you should give time and listen empathetically. It is important to respect how s/he feels and not to provide your own experience or answers. Having given time and space to allow for the discloser’s feelings to be unpacked, ask what options s/he thinks are available to him. Do not produce your own solutions – listen to the potential ways forward and encourage development of those ideas. However, it is important that someone who is suicidal seeks professional help and you should guide them to that conclusion if it is not emerging. Tell them you will support them as s/he moves along the journey to recovery. Make sure that you stay connected and arrange for your next meeting /conversation to support them as s/he takes the journey they have outlined. Contact them if you have not heard within the time you have agreed. Make sure you are supported yourself, as this kind of disclosure can be difficult for you.   CA Support has a confidential listening service. Feel free to get in touch if you need support during this time. We can be contacted by email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or call us on (353) 86 024 3294. Article written for CA Support by Prof. Patricia Barker, Dip. Couns., MPhil, PhD, FCA

Aug 20, 2020

William is a Chartered Accountant who had his own business, but because of circumstances beyond his control he lost his business, his home and suffered with depression. CA Support have helped him throughout these difficult times, and he has given his permission for us to share his story with you. As a Chartered Accountant, I worked with a professional firm until 1985 when the entire department in which I worked was made redundant. With a partner I started my own business importing ladies fashion dresses and accessories from Hong Kong. It was very successful; the items were sold in exclusive outlets throughout the country. All went well until a supermarket chain sold identical items at a much lower price. My business partner left me with extensive business debts, so I had no choice but to sell my home. I was not aware of the Benevolent Society (CA Support) until I rang to explain why I could not pay my annual subscription fee. It was a huge relief to discover that there was support available to me. I worked hard to get my qualification and wanted to keep my membership up to date. On the initial call I explained my circumstances and it was a relief to have a friendly non-judgmental voice on the phone. There was a lot of unemployment at the time due to a severe economic downturn. To help those affected, the Benevolent Society (CA Support) hired the ballroom in the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge and asked me to address the large audience of unemployed accountants. The Institute then set up a small department to assist and offer advice to those who were unemployed. I was very glad I was able to help. I don’t know how I would have managed in the years that followed without their support. I am a very independent person, so the lack of control over my life was extremely difficult to accept. I was unable to find employment, my age went against me and I was also told that I was over-qualified. I turned to writing and had some short stories and magazines published. But the money didn’t cover a fraction of my outgoings, Unfortunately in the winter of 2013 I found myself homeless. I approached the DLR Housing Department and was initially promised accommodation but, the promise was not fulfilled. I was advised I could go into a hostel with the warning that I might have to share with a drug addict, an alcoholic or someone with mental health problems. It was only with the help of a compassionate community officer and my rector that my situation was resolved. Thankfully, I now have a home again I don’t know if I will ever forget that fearful experience, of not knowing what was going to happen to me. I still struggle to find words to express how awful it was. With assistance from CA Support I was able to go in a new direction. I continued with my writing, gave a series of public talks on the effect of suicide on those left behind and last September I gave a talk on the emotional impact of homelessness on mental health at the request of The Irish Council of Churches. For this, I could draw on my own personal experience of having been homeless. I have no doubt that there are others who have stories to tell on how CA Support has helped their lives and continue to do so. Speaking for myself, I hope that those who can will continue to support this organisation, especially now during the current Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertain future that face us all.   William Blackall CA Support are supporting our members and their families always. If you would like to help or if you need help please contact us by email or on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294.

Jun 04, 2020

You may think that, as a Chartered Accountant, you should be strong, resilient, and able to solve problems. This is not necessarily true.  You are just as vulnerable as anyone else to the tsunami of apprehension that may be coming at you from all points of your personal compass – from clients, employer, business partners, spouse, elderly family members, children, friends and colleagues.  There are now so many uncertainties about health, finance, fitness, home, diet, sleep and relationships to cope with. You may be strong and grounded and able to cope and you may be able to offer support to others at this moment in time.  Or you may be struggling. You may have a friend, a client, a relative or a colleague who tells you that s/he is considering suicide.   Or you may be so unable to cope yourself that you are considering self-harm, suicide.  Let us consider first who might consider suicide. Who might consider suicide?   Any of us, including you, might think of suicide as a means of dealing with an overwhelming situation.  Generally, suicide is considered when there is a significant imbalance between our risk factors and our protective factors. We all vary, and the list of risk factors is extensive, but your risk factors might include any combination of: A recent bereavement Bullying Serious financial problems A history of depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, depression, or drug abuse A family history of suicidal behaviour or mental disorders A traumatic event Diagnosis with a possibly terminal illness or condition Relationship breakdown Isolation A personality disorder  Your protective factors might include: Your Relationships Social integration Good network Religious beliefs and practices Access to support agencies Your Personal resilience If you are thinking of suicide?   Take such thoughts very seriously. Do not dismiss them or think that you will come through it. Consider and confront your personal risk factors and notice, name and nourish your protective factors. Focus on your feelings and talk to someone about your feelings. You may be feeling overwhelmed, traumatised, fearful, guilty, unable to cope or powerless. You should name these feelings and the fact that you are thinking of suicide. Notice the impact on your life and name it to yourself and talk to someone about that impact. This might include loss of sleep, drinking, feeling depressed, loss of energy, loss of libido, short temper. Think about who you would like to talk to. It might be a family member, a colleague, CA Support, a counsellor, your GP, a clergyperson, The Samaritans. You should not attempt to deal with these feelings alone.   CA Support has a confidential listening service. Feel free to get in touch if you need support during this time. We can be contacted by email at casuppport@charteredaccountants.ie or call us on (353) 86 024 3294. Article written for CA Support by Prof. Patricia Barker, Dip. Couns., MPhil, PhD, FCA

Apr 09, 2020

A problem shared is a problem halved. It might be a cliché, but it's true. When you're not feeling yourself, talking things through with someone you trust can help lighten the load. It's the first step towards taking back control of your mental wellbeing. Why does talking help? Talking about something with another person allows you to see things from a different perspective. There could be another way of looking at your situation Talking aloud can help you make sense of a problem and clarify your thoughts and feelings. When we're just turning things over and over in our own heads it can be difficult to see what's really going on Another person may offer practical advice and solutions that you hadn't considered before The simple act of being listened to often has a big impact in itself. You'll feel less alone knowing that someone is there for you. You might even discover that you're not the only one who feels the way you do Sometimes just saying something aloud is immensely relieving. You may have been carrying something around in your head for a long time and talking about it can be like setting down a heavy load. You might notice your whole body relaxing as you start to talk Opening up to friends and family might encourage and empower others to do the same Talking openly about how you feel might seem awkward at first. Especially if you're not used to it. But it will get easier and become more natural the more you do it Who can you talk to? Friends and family are a great place to start. They may have already noticed that you're not quite yourself and asked if everything is ok. This can make starting a conversation a bit easier. Having said this, it's common for people to find it difficult to talk openly with friends and family, for lots of reasons. Often they're worried about upsetting people they care about, how their relationships might be affected or that they might be treated differently. And this can affect how honest and open you are about the reality of your situation. Sometimes it's easier to be more honest with someone you don't know. That's where counselling can help. Counselling, or talking therapy, is a chance for you to talk to someone who will listen without judgement. It offers you a safe space and dedicated time to talk openly about you. Your thoughts. Your feelings. And the real impact they have. A counsellor can offer an impartial perspective on what might be a very complex and intense situation. As someone who's not involved and with no personal agenda, they may be able to help you work through and understand things in ways that your friends and family can't. Ask us about counselling CA Support can arrange for you to work with a professional counsellor face-to-face, over the phone or online.  Take the first step You might have avoided opening up in the past, simply because you don't know where to start. How can you possibly articulate all the thoughts and feelings going round and round in your head? But there's no set script you have to follow, and no rush to get it all out at once. When you contact CA Support, our trained advisors will help you find the right words. And after that first step, you'll have the support of a professional counsellor to help you through the rest of the process. You won't be on your own. You can talk to an advisor in complete confidence, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us on 01 637 7342 to talk to one of the team. We are here for you. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Aug 08, 2019