Suicidal drivers moves welcomed by Elber Twomey

Suicide awareness campaigner Elber Twomey has welcomed improvements made by Devon and Cornwall Police in how its officers deal with suicidal drivers.

Suicidal drivers moves welcomed by Elber Twomey

Almost three years after the road traffic collision in Devon which led to the death of her husband Con, son Oisín, and her unborn child, Elber Marie, Ms Twomey visited the police force last week at the invitation of Chief Supt Jim Nye, the head of operations for the force. He has maintained close contact with her since the incident, caused by a suicidal taxi driver, in July 2012.

During her visit, Ms Twomey saw how the force is training police officers to safely manage pursuits. She welcomed the improvement to date and suggested how they could go further.

The force said it is committed to continually developing its training and policy in this difficult area.

Ms Twomey also spoke to senior officers about how she is working with gardaí to raise awareness of how they can better deal with suicidal drivers and those putting themselves at risk of harm.

She said she was very grateful to Chief Supt Nye for his invitation to see the training.

“I have been working with the gardaí back home in training for police officers in suicide awareness and I think all police forces have learning in this area,” she said. “I’m aware of the pressure a police officer is under when they are confronted by this issue and my campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the stigma that mental health causes. I honestly feel that training in suicide awareness is as much to help the police officer as indeed the suicidal person or driver they may encounter.”

Even before the accident, Devon and Cornwall Police was reviewing policy around how to deal with pursuits and the issue of suicidal drivers in line with national protocols and guidelines.

Chief Supt Nye said he was keen to welcome Elber back to Devon and Cornwall so she could see how they were handling such a “sensitive and difficult issue”.

Jim Nye talks about the training programme

“Policy around police pursuit is very much led by national guidelines, but in Devon and Cornwall we are developing our driver training to give as much safety as possible to our own staff and other road users,” he said.

“The tragedy which Elber and her family suffered was immense and it has focused our attention on developing how we deal with drivers who are suffering a mental health episode or may be suicidal.

“I’ve watched closely the work Elber has been involved in in Ireland and I can only admire her commitment to see this matter highlighted so publicly.

“Having Elber’s experience to run alongside this training is not only extremely impactive, but demonstrates more clearly than ever that training is and needs to be developed,” said Chief Supt Nye.

You can find more information about Elber’s crusade on Twitter @elbertwomey and #suicideawarenesstraining.

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