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NHS Confederation - Government launches new suicide prevention strategy

The Government has yesterday published a new cross-government suicide prevention strategy, which aims to reduce the suicide rate in England and better support those bereaved or affected by suicide.

Renew focus

Commenting on the strategy, interim Mental Health Network director Paddy Cooney said: "This strategy will help renew focus on how we can reduce suicide among all sections of society, and how we can provide better support for people at risk."

Commitment to funding research

The Government has also pledged £1.5m into suicide prevention research. Mr Cooney added: "Over the past 12 years, the number of inpatient suicides has fallen by over 60 per cent. We want to see this kind of progress continue, so we welcome the commitment to fund research into why people take their own life and how we can better prevent it. This will be particularly important in identifying how we can make mental health care better to reduce suicide risk."

Support for those affected by suicide

Speaking on the strategy's support for people affected by suicide, Mr Cooney said: "Our members welcome that this new strategy also considers ways in which we can improve how we support those affected by suicide, such as bereaved friends and family members."

"Although suicide is often associated with feelings of isolation and loneliness, there is no doubt that suicide has a devastating impact on friends and families. We know that as well as better identifying those at risk of suicide, we must work better with those affected by it too."

Making it happen 

The strategy identifies six key areas for action:

  1. reduce the risk of suicide in key high-risk groups
  2. tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups
  3. reduce access to the means of suicide
  4. provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide
  5. support the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour
  6. support research, data collection and monitoring.

Preventing suicide through community and emergency healthcare 

The Mental Health Network has produced a briefing introducing the National Patient Safety Agency’s (NPSA) suicide prevention toolkits for community, emergency and general practice staff, launched in December 2011.

Community, emergency and general practice staff have an important role in identifying and caring for people at risk of suicide and these toolkits can help community and emergency services, as well as general practices, understand what can be done to prevent suicide.

Find out more and download the toolkits.


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