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Maytree is a respite centre for people who are feeling suicidal. It is a charitable organisation that opened in October 2002. It is located in a terraced house in north London, and provides a one-off stay of four nights for up to four guests at a time. It is a unique suicide intervention charity that provides respite to people in a suicidal crisis.

Aims and objectives

Maytree's aims are to alleviate suffering and despair of people who want to commit suicide. It provides a supportive non medical environment where people who are feeling suicidal can rest, reflect and be befriended confidentially and without judgement. The idea behind Maytree is that people who are in a suicidal crisis are able to come to a place where they can feel safe and secure, but also a place where they can talk through their problems. Maytree is a registered charity and provides this service at no cost. Maytree aims to help those in a one-off suicidal crisis, as well as those that have longer term mental health problems. It aims to reduce suicide ideation.

Why Maytree is needed

More people die from suicide than are killed in traffic accidents. In Greater London there are typically two suicides every day. For every suicide there are roughly 30 attempts, the majority by females. However 75% of suicides are male; and amongst young males there has been a 100% increase in the last 20 years. It is the largest cause of death for males under 35.

Most (75%) of those who kill themselves have not been in touch with the mental health services in the previous 12 months. For some this may be a fear of being stigmatised by society. Further, admission to hospital is not always suitable for every person and outpatient resources may be limited.

Maytree is situated in the London Borough of Islington.

How Maytree works

It is the first place of its kind in the United Kingdom, where people who are in a suicidal crisis are able to come and stay for up to four nights.

The Maytree model to suicide prevention is a therapeutic approach, is based on the principle of befriending


The concept of befriending, a term originally used by The Samaritans, is a profound process based on a relationship founded on compassion and trust to facilitate changes in thoughts, feelings, understanding, intentions and actions that may lead to suicide.

Befriending is the art of enabling another person to feel heard and valued. The befriender discards all assumptions , offers unconditional acceptance, compassion, empathy and concern, whilst respecting and encouraging the other's autonomy and sense of equality as a human being. For a suicidal person, often isolated in an inner self-denigrating world, this may be a rare, long-forgotten or even a new experience. In giving trust, which is necessary in every real relationship, the befriender invites its reciproaction. The essence of befriending is the giving of undivided attention to the other, tuning in and connecting to mood and feelings, assimilating consciously and intuitively every aspect of the others presence.

Assessment of Suitability

All potential guests are assessed before an offer of stay is made. The process of assessment begins, informally, at the first contact, whether this is a referral via an agency or a self-referral. Maytree accepts referrals from GPs, hospitals, psychotherapists, counsellors, friends, family and also self-referrals, nationwide.

Evaluation of Maytree

An evaluation of the services offered by Maytree carried out by the Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust found that guests had short-term relief from stressful and life-threatening states of mind and situations, and longer-term positive changes, and reduced risks of suicide. The evaluation was partly funded by City Parochial Foundation.

Characteristics of Maytree Guests

Maytree has had 300 guests in the period up to January 2007, the majority from London, but also from all over England.

Media Coverage

There has been much interest in the work that Maytree are carrying out due to the unique nature of the service that they provide to people who are in a suicidal crisis. Maytree was chosen as one of The Guardian's Christmas Charities for 2006

See also


The Samaritans

External links

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