Government has unveiled a national strategy aimed at rapidly reducing England’s suicide rate.
The National Suicide Prevention Strategy commits to reducing England’s suicide rate within two and a half years of launch.
It will do this through more than 100 measures aimed at saving lives, providing early intervention, and supporting anyone going through the trauma of a crisis.
- 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 new national alert system on emerging methods or risks will mean anyone who comes into contact with potentially dangerous new methods of suicide will have a direct link into central government to report it, for consideration and discussion at the already established cross-sector emerging methods working group.
Through this, alerts will be circulated to all authorities who should be aware and may be required to take mitigating action.
If the method in question is being used predominantly by children or young people, for example, every single school and headteacher in the country will receive a government alert. This one-page alert will detail the risks and give clear instruction about how to react to safeguard those who could be affected.
The government will also work much more closely with the police to use its data about ‘suspected’ suicides, as well as with the Office for National Statistics (ONS), to get an indication of trends much more quickly. It will also publish a monthly report on its near real-time findings.
But the strategy also contains measures aimed at helping disproportionately affected groups of people.
To support one such group – middle-aged men – the strategy includes an action to ensure employers in largely male industries like construction and manufacturing have appropriate support in place for employees, such as mental health first aiders.
Suicide is also the leading cause of direct deaths six weeks to a year after the end of pregnancy. To further understand possible links between these factors and suicide and self-harm, the government is working with various partners to sponsor a project led by the charity Tommy’s and Sands Maternity Consortium. This project will engage people who have had suicidal thoughts or self-harmed and present with certain risk factors during the perinatal period.
Health and social care secretary, Steve Barclay, (pictured) said: “Too many people are still affected by the tragedy of suicide, which is so often preventable.
“This national cross-government strategy details over 100 actions we’ll take to ensure anyone experiencing the turmoil of a crisis has access to the urgent support they need.
“It’s imperative we support people earlier to prevent them reaching the lowest point, while tackling emerging methods of suicide, and eradicating harmful material online.
“We’re working at pace to achieve this, and we continue to invest billions of pounds to transform and improve our nation’s mental health services and – most importantly – save lives.”