Hear hear: Hugh McMichael works with prisoners

‘The three days I spend training Listeners are some of the most rewarding of my life.’

‘Suicidal feelings are not signs of weakness but are a natural consequence of the lives many prisoners have experienced.’ | Photo: Franco Antonio Giovanella on Unsplash

I have spent three of the last eight days in a local prison, training Listeners. Listeners operate in every British prison, acting as Samaritans for their fellow inmates. Prisoners are at the highest risk of suicide in the general population. This is not because they are in prison but because of the poor quality of their lives outside prison. Almost all suicidal prisoners have made previous attempts to take their own lives before incarceration. In other words, it is a population with very high levels of chronic distress and personal trauma. And it is their misfortune that their traumas often lead to criminal acts. This is now widely understood, as a result of ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ studies. These have now covered tens of thousands of people, way beyond what might be criticised as soft left-wing wishy-washy thinking.

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