World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September For more stories, interviews and how to get help, click here
A range of initiatives designed to reduce suicides among service users at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) have been introduced as part of a continuing drive to cut the number of people who take their own lives.
The first year of the Trust’s Suicide Prevention Strategy, which runs from 2017 to 2022, has seen a variety of educational events take place to target the groups most at risk, while specific training will soon be rolled out to NSFT staff to raise awareness of the needs of carers.
In addition, the Trust has joined the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA), which is a coalition of NHS organisations, emergency services, councils, charities, large employers and community groups who all support the ambition of creating a world where suicide does not exist.
By working closely together, ZSA hopes to share good practice and improve the support available for people who are thinking about taking their own life so that everybody knows where to go for help or what to do if they meet someone who is suicidal.
As part of its commitment to the initiative, NSFT has also pledged that all 4000 members of staff – including those working in non-clinical roles – will compete ZSA e-learning on suicide prevention. So far nearly half have done so, with the module providing them with the necessary skills to approach people who may be having suicidal thoughts, as well as helping them access further support.
The Trust is also continuing to work with both Norfolk and Suffolk Public Health Suicide Prevention Boards, which are multi-agency groups which share the ambition of reducing suicides by 10%, with the partnerships recently showcased by the National Suicide Prevention Alliance.
The news comes on World Suicide Prevention Day, which takes place on 10 September and this year carries the theme “working together to prevent suicide”.
Liz Howlett (pictured) was appointed as NSFT’s Suicide Reduction Plan Implementation Lead last year to help drive the Trust’s strategy. She said: “Suicide has a devastating impact on families and communities, but remains something we have a limited understanding of and struggle to talk about openly.
“Our aim is to work together with partners to raise awareness of suicide, give people the confidence to approach someone if they are concerned about their behaviour and make sure that everyone knows where to go for help if they need it.
“Over the past year, a range of projects have taken place to help us achieve these goals. Men are the most likely to take their lives by suicide, so we have held dedicated men’s mental health conferences in both Norfolk and Suffolk to encourage this group to ask for help when they need it. We’ve also joined the Zero Suicide Alliance, introduced further training for staff and launched social groups, such as our All to Play For football initiative, to give men an informal and welcoming environment in which to get together and offer each other mutual support.
“But suicide is not just about those using mental health services. Statistics show that around 70% of people who take their own life will not have tried to access mental health support, so it is vital to work together within our communities to gain a greater understanding of the issues surrounding suicidal thoughts and behaviours. We would encourage everyone to play their part by looking out for the people around them, offering them a listening ear and helping them to access support wherever necessary. It may just help save a life.”
Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney and Wellbeing Suffolk provide a range of support for people with common mental health and emotional issues, such as low mood, depression or stress. The service aims to work with people to help them make changes to improve their wellbeing and quality of life before they reach crisis point.
For more information, call 0300 123 1503 or visit www.wellbeingnands.co.uk
If you need someone to talk to, you can call The Samaritans on 116 123. For more information, visit the Samaritans' website here.
For further advice and to find out about the support that NSFT can offer, visit the Help in a crisis page here.
Suicide facts and figures
Figures from the World Health Organisation show:
• Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds.
• There are indications that for each adult who dies of suicide, there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide.
• Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds globally.
A study completed by the Samaritans has shown:
• There were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2015.
• The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 40–44. This may be because men are less open about their feelings and less likely to seek help.
• In England and the UK, female suicide rates are at their highest in a decade.
Figures compiled between 2012 and 2014 by Public Health in Norfolk and Suffolk show:
• An average of 77 suicides take place each year in Norfolk (10.3 per 100,000 people*) and 62 in Suffolk (8.7 per 100,000 people*). The rate for England as a whole is 8.9 per 100,000.
• A third of all people who die by suicide are aged between 45 and 59.
• 90% of people who died by suicide had seen their GP in the 12 months before their death. Nearly a quarter (23%) had seen their GP in the week preceding their death.
(*These are the total suicide rates for each county, not for people specifically under NSFT care).
Visit our World Suicide Prevention Day page here to find out more about the work NSFT is doing to reduce the number of people who take their own lives, to read interviews of people who have experienced suicide, and to find out more about the help available if you want support, guidance or just someone to talk to.