Thursday, 26 April 2018

A simple letter.......

I am often asked what quilters should write in their letters to their recipients. Some people don't feel comfortable writing to strangers... "what should I write?" they ask.  When we were in Melbourne a few weeks ago, one of the ladies asked our recipient, Dave, what she should write and he gave a wonderful answer.  I thought some of you would benefit from reading what he had to say.

A simple letter can save a life

“We believe the caring letters gave patients a feeling that they were cared about and added a personal touch”

Everyone enjoys getting a personal, handwritten letter. But the personal missive may be especially beneficial to people at risk of suicide. The research followed a pilot study of a suicide prevention method in Switzerland. As part of the method, patients received follow-up letters from therapists they had seen after being admitted to the hospital for attempting suicide. 

A total of 120 patients took part in the study, which involved seeing a therapist for three sessions to discuss their mental health. Afterward, half of the patients received mail from their therapist. The handwritten letters arrived once every three months during the first year after the patients were released from hospital, and every six months the next year. While the notes mostly contained standardised advice on warning signs and staying safe, they also included a few personalized statements from the therapists. 

The technique seems to have had a broad impact on the patients who received those letters, compared to a control group that just went through post-hospitalization therapy. Only five patients in the letter-receiving group attempted suicide over the 24 months of the study, while 41 in the control group did. One person in each group died from suicide. This method of follow-up appears to reduce suicide attempt reoccurrence by almost 80 percent.

Now imagine you’re a soldier, sailor or airmen; deployed far from family and friends. You feel alone and isolated – just like many who are contemplating or have attempted suicide. Suddenly in the mail you receive a package from ‘someone who cares’, someone who cares enough to make you your own quilt, took the time to write you a letter and then sent it to you all the way from home.

“It’s a lovely sentiment that sends the message, You’ve not been forgotten by us”

I have been the recipient of a lifesaving parcel from Aussie Hero Quilts. Whilst I wasn’t halfway around the world when I received my quilt and letter; I couldn’t have been in a more lonely or isolated position – I was in a suicidal crisis, I was in a mental health care facility and I wanted to die. My parcel saved my life. I was one of the 80%.

Now imagine about the impact of the parcels have been received by those on operational duties in the Australian Defence Force. Imagine the amount of warmth, love and affection that the simple gift of a handwritten letter has been provided by the countless volunteers who support Aussie Hero Quilts - and that is before we even consider the physical warmth that your quilts have brought to those soldiers, sailors and airmen. Please keep up your amazing work because Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen always have and always will need both physical and emotional warmth.

“Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door”

Thank you so much Dave! Much appreciated. 

Till next time... keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

Jan-Maree xxx

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