Getting to know Making Families Count – Stephen Habgood

This is the first of a series of blogs in which the members of Making Families Count write about what drew them into the work they do and how they feel about it. It’s another way of getting to know the individual members of MFC and gaining a better understanding of our work.

STEPHEN HABGOOD (Director of Making Families Count)

“Soon after I was appointed as Chair of PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide in 2010 I put together a newsletter article in which I raised my concern about the way the Trust investigated my son’s suicide.

As a former prison service Senior Investigation Officer into deaths in custody, I had assumed that the investigation into my son’s death would be similarly open and transparent to the ones I had undertaken. I did not expect the Trust to ignore almost everything I told them or seek to place the blame on my son for the incompetence of the psychiatrist who failed to treat him properly.

At a time when I was struggling to come to terms with my son’s suicide I was involved in challenging the investigation into the circumstances surrounding my son’s death. I recognized that many parents, having just lost a child to suicide, would not have the heart for such a fight. I felt I needed to make the point for them.

Following my article a number of parents who had lost children to suicide came to me with very similar stories about the Trust’s failure to engage with them in the investigation process or ignore them completely. One parent told me the investigation report was handed to him on the steps of the Coroners Court as he went into the inquest into his son’s death.

In 2014 I was approached by Julie Kerry who was bringing together a team (later to become Making Families Count) who had concerns about the way the NHS were investigating suicides and homicides. This was the first time I realised how common it was for families to be ignored, not just in the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the suicide of their child, but also in the care and treatment process.

This has become for me a campaign to explain to Trusts why the involvement of families is so important, not just in the investigation into the death, but also in the provision of treatment and care.

Prevention the suicide of a young person is not about health staff working in isolation, it is about working with families and siblings and friends to keep a young person alive.

I am promoting the use of the slogan ‘Together we can save young lives’.”

You can read Stephen Habgood’s biography on our About Us page.

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