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Tomorrow is too late: suicide prevention support for people with no fixed address

This guest blog is written by Eva Bell, Participation Officer at Samaritans and lead of the Suicide Prevention Consortium.

As a Suicide Prevention Consortium, we have just published a report exploring suicide prevention support for people with no fixed address.

Who are the Suicide Prevention Consortium and what did they do to develop this report?

The Suicide Prevention Consortium is made up of four organisations: Samaritans (lead), National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA), Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP) and WithYou. As part of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, it aims to bring the expertise of its member organisations and the voice of those with lived experience directly to policymakers to improve suicide prevention in England.

We explored suicide prevention support with people who had experience of living with no fixed address. Through a series of workshops and sessions we discussed what works well, what barriers people face and what needs to change to improve suicide prevention support for people with no fixed address. Our report outlines our approach, as well as key themes and recommendations for policy and practice.

What do we already know about people who experience homelessness and suicide risk?

Suicide is complex and rarely caused by one thing. However, we do know that homelessness, housing insecurity and poor housing can increase suicide risk. In 2021 13.4 per cent of the estimated deaths of homeless people (in England and Wales) were registered as suicide. In 2023, Samaritans responded to over 41,000 calls for help that mentioned homelessness concerns.

The Government’s latest Suicide Prevention Strategy for England recognises that the wider determinants of health, including housing, are important to consider when addressing risk factors for suicide. But what more can policymakers and service providers do to improve suicide prevention activity for people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity? We worked with people with relevant lived experience to find out.

Four things organisations working with people experiencing homelessness can do to improve suicide prevention for people with no fixed address

  1. People told us that when seeking support it’s important to acknowledge that different identities and experiences will impact their suicide risk and their healthcare needs differently. People told us about experiences related to addiction, mental health and homelessness among others, all of these experiences will impact people and suicide risk differently. This is part of making sure we are taking a person-centred, trauma-informed approach to care.
  2. People with lived experience of homelessness should be involved with the design, development, delivery and evaluation of services to ensure that they are non-judgmental and supportive.
 Those closest to the solutions are often furthest away from the power and the resources. 
  1. There should be no barriers for people seeking support with suicidality wherever they seek help. Organisations must be equipped to confidently work with people who experience suicidal ideation and have the policies and processes in place to enable them to reduce barriers to support. Groundswell, Homeless Link and Pathway have developed resources for organisations developing suicide prevention policies and procedures.
  2. Community spaces specifically for people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity are crucial. People told us that these spaces allowed them to build up routines and experience social connections and activities that they otherwise don’t have access to. This was empowering and helped reduce isolation and other factors related to suicide risk.
 As long as you’ve got community and a connection with others facing the same unique challenge as you are, you can work together to find the solution. But when you’re on your own in complete isolation, that’s where the suicide thoughts are. 

You can find the full and a summary report on Samaritans website.

Our resources related to suicide prevention and postvention

We have a range of resources and guidance to support organisations to develop suicide prevention resources and how staff can better support people experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Channel website: http://www.homelesslink.org.uk

Original article link: https://homeless.org.uk/news/tomorrow-is-too-late-suicide-prevention-support-for-people-with-no-fixed-address/

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