New strategy to reduce suicides could save up to 80 local lives each year

New strategy to reduce suicides could save up to 80 local lives each year image

Home » New strategy to reduce suicides could save up to 80 local lives each year

As World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10 October) approaches, NHS leaders in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have welcomed the publication of a new national strategy which could prevent many of the 80 or so deaths by suicide in the local area each year.

The Suicide prevention strategy for England: 2023 to 2028 makes a commitment to see the number of suicides in England decrease within two and a half years.

If successful, thousands more people approaching a crisis will get the support they so desperately need and fewer loved ones will go through the heartbreak of losing a friend or relative to suicide.

Over 100 measures have been outlined in the strategy aimed at saving lives, providing early intervention and supporting anyone going through the trauma of a crisis. This includes:

  • A new national alert system to notify relevant authorities – like schools, universities, and charities – of emerging methods of suicides and risks, and any required actions that can reduce access or limit awareness;
  • Fresh guidance issued to first responders, recognising new and emerging methods, and how such incidents should be dealt with;
  • Near real-time surveillance of trends in tragic suicides to be introduced on a national scale this year – enabling more timely and targeted actions;
  • A government pledge to collaborate with countries around the world to target and stop suppliers of dangerous and lethal substances at the source.

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan also sets out an ambition to grow the mental health workforce by 73% by 2037.

The strategy sets out how work will target specific groups at risk of suicide, including children and young people, middle-aged men, autistic people, pregnant women, and new mothers.

Millions of children in schools across England will have access to a dedicated mental health support team by the end of March 2025, with at least half of school pupils set to receive such support. Mental health support teams intervene where a mild-to-moderate mental health issue is identified, and ensure children and young people are both protected and supported.

Michael Farrington, Mental Health Programme Manager for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, said:

“The impact of suicide on individuals and loved ones is devastating.  The NHS and other services already work hard to reduce the number of suicides and to intervene as early as possible when people are experiencing poor mental health.

“Across England, more than 5,000 people die by suicide in England each year.  Suicide can affect any of us, and there is a role for all of us in prevention.

“We also know that there are emerging methods of suicide, and the new national alert system means anyone who comes into contact with one of these will have a direct link to report it.”

Dr Sarah Whiteman, chief medical director at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said:

“I welcome the targeting of specific groups of people, who are known to be vulnerable to suicide.  Middle-aged men, for example, have had the highest rates of suicide of any group since 2010.

“Many local employers and sports clubs, especially those which are largely male, and other voluntary groups are investing in Mental Health First Aid training, which can help people when they are at a low point.

“But suicide is also the leading cause of direct deaths between six weeks and a year after the end of pregnancy, so there will be work with women who have had suicidal thoughts or self-harmed during the perinatal period.”

In August 2023, the Government launched a Suicide Prevention Grant Fund, calling on the voluntary sector across England to apply for funding to continue supporting the tens of thousands of people experiencing suicidal thoughts.  Up to £10m will be available across England.

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