Practical steps to reduce deaths combined with effective national and local suicide prevention plans will save lives, Ruth Sutherland, National Suicide Prevention Alliance co-chair and Samaritans CEO, told more than 200 delegates at the NSPA annual conference today.
“Suicide prevention needs to be properly funded and prioritised across the board. We need to know what good looks like and it needs to be implemented everywhere,” said Ruth. “We have a chance to put effective measures in place if we act now, when the Government and policy makers have shown they are receptive to our suggestions.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who sent a supportive speech via a short video, said: “Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and a leading cause of death in young people and new mothers, so it is vital that we make every contact with the NHS and care services count.
“There is some brilliant work already taking place in mental health but more needs to be done to make care more consistent across the country. I am committed to transforming suicide prevention services and our updated suicide prevention strategy sets out to do more to help those groups at greatest risk.”
It was a tribute to the energy and commitment of NSPA members that suicide prevention was so uppermost in people’s minds, Ruth said. NSPA members also gave evidence to the recent Health Select Committee’s Inquiry on Suicide Prevention, due to report soon.
The NSPA and Public Health England guidance for local suicide prevention planning is raising standards across England. Around 95 per cent of local authorities have suicide prevention plans in place or in development, but plans must be active and effective, Ruth said.
Brian Dow, co-Chair of the NSPA and Director of External Affairs at Rethink Mental Illness said: “We are currently seeing unprecedented intent to improve mental health and prevent suicide from all levels of Government, what we need to do now is channel this energy into projects and services that make a difference on the ground. The NSPA conference has shown some brilliant of examples of what can be done to prevent suicide and we must continue to be ambitious in how we tackle it.
“Suicide rates are still unacceptably high. We are still losing too many brothers, sisters, parents and friends. We now have a unique opportunity to come together to enact practical, proven solutions and save lives,” Brian said.
The conference brought together a number of speakers involved in suicide prevention including Rt Hon Norman Lamb, chair of the West Midlands Mental Health Commission and Professor Louis Appleby, chair of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group.
Gerry Cadogan and Tom Chapman of the Torbay Public Health and the Lion Barbers Collective group talked about their ongoing work to engage with men about their mental health. Malcolm Rae, Trustee chair of State of Mind, showed how sport can reach people who wouldn’t normally ask for emotional support.
Ruth called on everyone to campaign, nationally and locally, to keep suicide prevention at the top of the agenda.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) is a cross-sector, England-wide coalition committed to reducing the number of suicides in England, and improving support for those bereaved or affected by suicide. The NSPA has developed from the Call to Action for Suicide Prevention and will continue to build on this national collaboration.
- The NSPA is working with more than 140 members and supporters from the public, private and voluntary sectors, who are committed to working towards reducing suicide and providing support for people bereaved by suicide
- Rethink Mental Illness and Samaritans jointly co-chair the NSPA. Members and supporters include The Matthew Elvidge Trust, PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, NSPCC, Royal College of Psychiatrists, the police, the ambulance service and MIND. The NSPA is funded by the Department of Health and the conference is supported by Public Health England.