A nurse who saw several colleagues negatively impacted by suicide during the coronavirus pandemic has written a book that she hopes will help to raise awareness and improve understanding of the issue.
Jenny Hutchinson, who goes by the name of Cher Gradien as a self-publishing author, works as a community nurse in Hartlepool and has been in the profession for 25 years.
“All of a sudden it seemed to be in everybody’s world”
Speaking ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday 10 September, Ms Hutchinson told Nursing Times about her most recent book – titled Mint.
She said that during the coronavirus pandemic, children of three different colleagues at her trust had taken their own life. Another nurse on her team also had two family members die by suicide at that time.
“All of a sudden it seemed to be in everybody’s world,” said Ms Hutchinson.
It was at that point that she decided she wanted to write a book, to try and raise awareness of suicide and to try and help those affected, she told Nursing Times.
By making notes and carrying out research to ensure her story was accurate in its approach, she subsequently penned Mint, which is a fictional account of a situation.
The book centres on the story of a woman who, while having a hard time herself, later finds herself helping a man at risk of suicide.
The woman in the story has “no idea” how to help the man but starts by offering him a mint.
Ms Hutchinson said she wanted to portray that suicide “can affect people from all walks of life, at any time and for any reason”, and to try and outline ways to help.
When she first published her book last year, she thought to herself “if one person reads it, and one person has a bit more understanding, then you’re winning”. “That is a massive deal,” she said.
The reaction to the book had been hugely positive and one of her colleagues who inspired the book told her she had got it “spot on”.
Ms Hutchinson has also written other novels, including a number of children’s books.
Nursing Times launched its Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign in 2020 to lobby for appropriate mental wellbeing support for nurses during the pandemic and beyond.
Liam Barnes, founder and trustee of the mental health charity Laura Hyde Foundation (LHF) commended Ms Hutchinson’s efforts.
The LHF was launched in late 2017 in memory of Mr Barnes’ cousin Laura Hyde, who was a Royal Navy nurse and died by suicide in 2016.
“The growing threat of suicide amongst our healthcare staff is one that has to be recognised and dealt with,” Mr Barnes told Nursing Times.
“We at the Laura Hyde Foundation know how losing one to suicide feels and are determined to ensure it doesn’t become a more frequent outcome.
“We applaud Jenny’s approach to channeling her own experiences into this book to help de-stigmatise the topic of suicide and inspire people that there is support out there for anyone struggling.”
If you or someone you know are struggling to cope and need someone to talk to, the Samaritans offer 24-hour support on 116 123, or you can email email@example.com for a response within 24 hours.