NSPA Conference 2015

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The NSPA’s first ever suicide prevention conference One World Connected was held on Tuesday 3rd February at The Kia Oval in London.

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The conference brought together over 200 people from across the public, private and voluntary sectors to discuss the challenges of suicide prevention, and share knowledge and good practice from across the country. Delegates included representatives from:

  • local councils
  • public health teams
  • NHS Foundation Trusts
  • Mental Health Trusts
  • voluntary organisations
  • community interest companies
  • training providers
  • the rail industry
  • criminal justice
  • police
  • people with lived experience of suicide

The programme of speakers and workshop contributors included some of the field’s leading figures, including Professor Louis Appleby, Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group and Professor Keith Hawton, Director of the Centre for Suicide Research at the University of Oxford.

Workshops covered:

  • whole community approaches to suicide prevention
  • approaches to local implementation of the strategy
  • suicide bereavement
  • supporting people at the point of crisis
  • responding to suicide contagion and suicides in public places

The full conference programme can be found here.

Health Minister Norman Lamb opened the event, telling delegates

“There is no more important work than suicide prevention. Suicide needs to be openly debated and talked about in a way which has not happened in the past.”

The Minister also referenced figures from the recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention ‘Inquiry into the State of Local Suicide Prevention Plans in England’ which found around a third of Local Authorities do not have suicide prevention plans or multi-agency suicide prevention groups and do not review local data on suicide. This gap in suicide prevention needs to be addressed.

“If we work together and if we give mental health and suicide prevention the priority they deserve, we can make sure that people are both healthy and happy.”

The Minister’s address was followed by a session led by Professor Louis Appleby and Professor Kevin Fenton from Public Health England looking at the national picture for suicide prevention.

Professor Appleby reported that suicide figures had risen by around five per cent in 2013 according to Government statistics and the group most at risk are middle aged men in their 40s to early 50s.

Professor Fenton spoke of the work that Public Health England is doing to reduce suicides including the development of guidance on responding to suicides in public places, geographic suicide contagion and the impact of social media, as well as identifying at risk groups.

The afternoon brought the focus back to the individual and the impact of suicide on all involved. Hamish Elvidge, Co-Chair of the NSPA and Chair of The Matthew Elvidge Trust spoke movingly of his own family’s experience following the suicide of their son Matthew in 2009 and emphasised the importance of building resilience and a better understanding of the value of looking after your mental health from a young age. Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of the BACP and author of ‘Counselling suicidal clients’ reminded delegates that professionals are impacted by suicide too, and he spoke openly and honestly about his experience of losing a client to suicide and the need to address fears around talking about suicide.

The response to the day was overwhelmingly positive with delegates sharing their thoughts on Twitter via #NSPAconf

All in all, it was a good day and NSPA Co-Chair Alison Mohammed and Chief Operating Officer at Rethink Mental Illness said:

“This conference is an opportunity to bring people together and to share best practice. To keep suicide prevention at the top of the agenda, we need all sections of society to work together to reduce suicide and improve support for those bereaved by suicide.

“Encouraging at risk groups and indeed everybody, to seek help early and to publicise the support available for those who are struggling, is crucial.”