A former Rydal Penrhos pupil has scooped a top international award for her pioneering work supporting people at risk of suicide and self-harm.
Dr Alys Cole-King, a Consultant Psychiatrist at Glan Clwyd Hospital, has become the first person from the United Kingdom to be awarded the prestigious Ringel Service Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).
Dr Cole-King was recognised for her innovative and tireless support of people at risk of suicide in North Wales and further afield nationally and internationally at a glittering awards ceremony in Malaysia on Friday, July 21.
She said: “I feel very honoured to have received this award. There are so many people and organisations around the world doing excellent work in suicide prevention.
“It’s fantastic to be able to get our work which started here in North Wales recognised in this way.”
The ex-Penrhos College pupil was named one of the most influential women in medicine by the respected Medical Women’s Journal in recognition of her pioneering work with policy makers, voluntary bodies and academics to raise awareness of suicide and self-harm.
Her expertise lies in supporting people with mental health problems at the hospital as well as carrying out a specialist suicide and self-harm prevention role across the whole of North Wales.
She combines clinical duties with BCUHB with her role as Clinical Director of Connecting with People, a not-for-profit organisation she co-founded in 2010.
The mother of Lower Sixth Form pupil Amy spoke at Rydal Penrhos annual Speech Day event in 2015, has developed bite-sized training for healthcare professionals and leaflets and online self-help resources to support people at risk of suicide or self-harm.
She has led the development of the SAFETool - a web based app which enables healthcare practitioners to use tablets or smartphones to assess and safely respond to people at risk of suicide, and has also played a leading role in making the ‘U Can Cope’ film and creating the coalition of over a hundred organisations including the Professional Cricketers’ Association and Rugby Players’ Association – which came together to spread the message that it is possible to overcome suicidal thoughts and feelings.
“People attempting suicide usually want their suffering to end, not necessarily their life to end,” added Dr Cole-King.
“It is vital that anyone considering suicide knows that it's never too late to seek help, and there is always hope.”