This week (Saturday 26 January – Saturday 2 February) is National Storytelling Week. There are many connections between the work we do at PAPYRUS and storytelling.

Every day, on HOPELINEUK, we speak to people who are having thoughts of suicide. When we ask them what they do to distract themselves, often their answers are related to fictional worlds of escapism. In their dark moments they get a lot of comfort from either reading or watching stories. The power of escaping to a fictional world is invaluable for many people we support. That escapism might only be for an hour or so, but it allows them to clear their mind enough to be able to face whatever reality the next day will bring.

A lot of the issues we hear about can be linked to feelings of isolation – people feeling like they don’t fit in with the world. The thought of being the only one dealing with what they are going through can add dramatically to their negative feelings. Stories are all about characters being faced with situations or obstacles. When a person can associate with that character, it can genuinely help with those feelings of isolation.

Some of the real-life personal stories that we hear can be truly inspirational. We hear from people who have been bereaved by suicide but then go on to do amazing fundraising for us, people who have been through incredibly traumatic experiences but are still determined to battle through their tough times, and then there are people who have lived through the darkest moments imaginable but have come out of them – not just to survive but to thrive too. At times, these stories can inspire others who find themselves in a similar situation.

Every person has a life story. A big part of what we do, especially on our HOPELINEUK service, involves listening to these stories. In order to support someone we need to understand them as much as possible. The best way to understand someone is to hear their story. Once we know the journey someone has been on we are in a better position to support them. In fact, we are well placed to help them move forwards.

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