Topic: News

NSPA Annual Members Meeting 2019

“Thank you for one of the best events of the year”

Our Annual Members Meeting took place on 11th June at NCVO, London. A wide range of organisational members attended from across the public, private and voluntary sectors alongside individual members.

A selection of NSPA members presented about their work on the day, alongside updates on real-time surveillance and the review of local authority suicide prevention plans.  All attendees also spent time discussing topics such as local plans and local multi-agency groups, workplace suicide prevention, and suicide prevention in children and young people, and sharing ideas of good practice and working with people with lived experience of suicide.

Feedback from the event has been overwhelmingly positive, with many attendees commenting on the value of sharing ideas, challenges and hopes in such a diverse group who all care so much about suicide prevention and bereavement support. Thank you to those members who came along and made it such a fantastic day.

Below is information on each of the presentations from the day, please click on the title to view the slide sets.

Update from the NSPA

Penny Fosten (NSPA Executive Lead) updated members on some of our work in 2018-19, including the launch of our Resources Hub, the growth of our national conference, our World Suicide Prevention Day activities, and the increase in our social media presence. She also outlined plans for the coming year including how best to share information and support cross-sector collaboration whilst continuing to enhance connections and communication with and between members and represent our members nationally.

Institute of Mental Health at the University of Birmingham – Working alongside young people to develop and deliver mental health-related research

Maria Michail (Senior Birmingham Fellow), Niyah Campbell (Youth Participation Lead) and Layne Boyden (Member of the Youth Advisory Group) spoke about their work to establish a Youth Advisory Group as part of the Institute, which can contribute to their aim to create a transformational change in our understanding, conceptualisation and response to self-harm and suicide prevention in research, clinical practice, policy-making and community practices.

Rural Community Council (Leicestershire & Rutland) – The RCC’s role in suicide awareness

Mike Wilbur (Delivery Manager Community Wellbeing) presented on the community-based work of the RCC in suicide awareness raising and tackling taboo. He spoke about the Start a Conversation initiative which aims to encourage people to be more open about their worries and show them where to seek help and to break the stigma around suicide.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue – Effective emergency service employee health and wellbeing support

Kelly Patterson (Senior Occupational Health Officer & Psychological Therapist) and Mark Thomas (Group Manager) talked us through the ground-breaking implementation of Mental Health First Aid and Critical Incident Stress Management undertaken by their fire service and the positive impact it has had on staff and the service as a whole.

Mental Health Foundation

(no slides used)

David Crepaz-Keay (Head of Empowerment and Social Inclusion) spoke about the about the progress made in attitudes and approaches to mental health in the 70 years since the Mental Health Foundation began its work.  He also stressed the vital importance of “less focus on illness and broken individuals, more focus on communities and relationships”.

Jonathan’s Voice – Workplace engagement – working with the legal sector

Graham McCartney (Trustee) talked about their road to becoming a charity and what drives the work of Jonathan’s Voice. He also spoke about outreach and raising awareness through their networks in the legal sector.

Real-time suicide surveillance – review of current practice and recommendations for future development

Jonathan Ling (Professor of Public Health, University of Sunderland) gave an overview of the findings of the Public Health England-funded research exploring 2 questions:

  • Whether a police and/or coroner led RTSSS could lead to earlier more effective monitoring and improved support for people bereaved by suicide and
  • What action is required to implement a RTSSS across the UK effectively?

Samaritans – Local suicide prevention planning in England – research findings

Jacqui Morrissey (Co-Chair, NSPA and Assistant Director of Research and Influencing, Samaritans) gave a preview of research findings from the Samaritans joint report with the University of Exeter which provides the first ever nation-wide view of the breadth and depth of suicide prevention planning within local authorities in England. You can access the full report here.


Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust: Suicide Prevention Information Network (SPIN)

SPIN (Suicide Prevention Information Network) events are half-day information sharing events that shine a spotlight on different key areas of suicide prevention, currently particular identified high-risk groups who are at an increased risk from suicide. Local speakers and local services are used where possible to showcase what they are doing, and to raise the profile of what is happening around suicide prevention in our local communities. Information stands are present, and people can take information away for further reflection.

At the end of each event, people are asked to write a “pledge”. This asks them to reflect on what they have been inspired by during the event, and to make a commitment to themselves to take something away. This is important as it ensures people are active participants and are learning from the presentations and speakers and think around what they may like to do differently. This helps people leave feeling energised to make things better, and with an idea of where they can start.

Pledges from previous events include:

“I will think more about how we include families, friends and carers in our initial assessments”

“I will not feel afraid to ask people about suicide”

“I will think more about ensuring I am asking open ended and inclusive questions”

“I will pay attention to the role of demographic factors in my assessments”

SPIN events occur every quarter and are open to everyone who wishes to book a place. There are up to 100 spaces available, and places are always completely free, enabling rich and varied audiences. These include clinical staff, staff from other sectors and from charitable organisations, people with lived experience of suicide, families, friends and carers and students. These varied audiences ensure discussions and questions come from a variety of perspectives, further contributing to the impact of the events. Plenty of breaks are scheduled, ensuring there is time for people to reflect, meet each other and discuss the topics – many key connections have been made during this time.

SPIN events are mindful of psychological safety because of the nature of the topics that are being discussed. At the opening of each event, we always talk about how we keep ourselves safe during the event, ground rules, and what to do if anyone becomes distressed. Staff are on hand to provide support should this occur, and there is a designated “quiet room” – a safe space where people can go to reflect at any time during the event. It is set up with comfy chairs, refreshments, and plenty of tissues! A trained member of staff will check in with anyone who uses the quiet room and see if they want to be alone or if they would like to talk to someone. However, so far the quiet room has been used very little. People report finding the events very safe and supportive, and although they can be emotional and impactful at times, the ethos of the events feels positive and people report leaving the events feeling hopeful and empowered.

At the end of each SPIN event, people evaluate their experience of the event, and, to date, the events have only ever been rated as good or excellent. Regardless of the perspective they are coming from, people have said how valuable they find the events, and how they like the balance of speakers from different viewpoints. People also suggest topics that they would like covering in the future, and we use these to shape future plans and agendas.

Topics covered so far this year in relation to suicide in high risk groups have included:

  • Suicide prevention in men
  • Suicide prevention in the LGBTQI population
  • Suicide prevention for perinatal women
  • Bereavement by suicide

Topics planned for the rest of 2019 are:

  • Suicide prevention for veterans and for those in the military
  • Suicide prevention in older adults
  • Suicide prevention for children and young people

Samaritans of Cornwall – more than a listening service

Samaritans of Cornwall at Truro have been providing emotional support to the people of Cornwall and beyond since 1970, and today provide almost 24/7 listening support through a team of 120 volunteers. The branch is the only one located in Cornwall and covers almost all of the county, with volunteers travelling up to an hour from as far away as Launceston in the east and St Just in the west to cover their shifts.

The branch is located in the county’s only city, Truro, however the team try to get out to the more remote areas through the provision of outreach services in some of the most deprived areas in Europe. The branch is supported by a market stall that operates three days a week, selling ‘pre-loved goods’. The stall brings in about one third of the branches annual running costs.

In addition to providing support to over 53,000 people via phone, text and email each year, Samaritan volunteers in Cornwall play an active role in trying to reduce the very high level of suicides in the region. Cornwall has an average of 14.1 deaths by suicide per 100,000 of population compared to the national average of 10.1.

Working with partners to prevent suicide

  • The branch is an active member of the Multi Agency Suicide Prevention Group (MASPG) and has collaborated and presented at three Towards Zero Conferences, including running workshops on listening skills. As part of the MASPG they were involved with the postvention planning for schools and education, helping to devise a pathway of support available to students, teachers, parents and the wider community.
  • Volunteers worked with Cornwall Partnership Foundation NHS Trust, St Austell Brewery and BBC Radio Cornwall on the Don’t Flush Your Life Away campaign to provide posters to pubs, sports clubs and workplaces raising awareness of mental health in places like men’s toilets. The pictures focus mainly on men, but new versions are published regularly addressing different sectors of the community. This initiative has been picked up in other regions throughout the country.
  • The branch collaborates with other local and national initiatives to raise awareness of the need to reach out for and provide emotional support, and to remind people that Samaritans is there in times of crisis.

Providing support

  • The branch has volunteers who work with local public spaces to provide support in the event of a suicide and to raise awareness, they currently have a stand at a local station promoting Brew Monday in January and had one in July promoting Time to Talk.
  • On Friday nights, two volunteers take part in an outreach programme at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust A&E from 10pm to 1.30am providing emotional support for staff, patients and their families/carers.
  • There is a monthly outreach programme at the Plant Eat and Teach project in Penzance where volunteers work alongside people who have experienced major life events and mental health issues, or who are struggling to cope with life.
  • The branch provides third party referral support to the Psychiatric Liaison Team, Cornwall Housing, Newquay Community Orchard, Camborne, Pool and Redruth Foodbank, Penryn Campus student services and the Community Adult Social Care Team.
  • There is an active educational programme, organising talks at schools and colleges throughout the county, as well as a busy Talks Team who go into workplaces and community groups, WI’s, Rotary etc to raise awareness of their services.

What does the future hold for the branch?

The next initiative is to open a satellite branch on Penryn Campus at the University of Exeter and Falmouth University aimed at raising awareness of Samaritans support, and to attract volunteers from the staff and student bodies. Initially this will provide phone, email and text support as part of the wider organisation, but once there are sufficient volunteers the aim is to provide a face-to-face drop-in at weekends.

Alongside this, the team have reviewed their current premises and agreed they aren’t fit for purpose for the future. A major fundraising and awareness campaign has been launched and the search is on to find a new home that will provide better access for volunteers and callers, be more economically efficient to run and potentially provide an income to reduce the requirement for fundraising.

NSPA members’ newsletter, October 2018

If you would like to receive our monthly newsletter, please join the alliance as either a member or supporter via this link.

In this month’s newsletter:

  1. NSPA news and activities
  2. New alliance members
  3. Updates from our members
  4. Top suicide prevention stories
  5. The latest research news
  6. Funding opportunities
  7. Upcoming Events

NSPA news and activities

Save the date: NSPA annual conference, Tuesday 5th February 2019, London

Our national suicide prevention conference brings together over 200 people with a professional and personal interest in suicide prevention to share the latest research and good practice, promote collaboration and enable networking.


The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Suicide prevention across the life course’. We will reflect on preventing suicide in children and young people, those of working age, and older adults – hearing from academics and practitioners about their understanding and experience of working with these different groups. In our workshops you can hear more detail about suicide prevention and bereavement activities from across the country, and explore how to take that learning back to your own work.


Confirmed speakers include:
Professor Louis Appleby, Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manchester
Professor Nav Kapur, Head of Research at the Centre for Suicide Prevention at the University of Manchester
Lisa McNally from Bracknell Forest Council talking about their social inclusion approach to suicide prevention

Bookings will be open soon, so you can let us know you’d like to attend by emailing us and you can find out more on our website.


New alliance members

Since our last newsletter Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, Butterflies Bereavement Support, Changing Lives Through Changing Minds and Health and Care Working Together in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw have joined the NSPA. Please join us in welcoming them. If you’d like to learn more, click their logo below to visit their membership page.


Updates from our members

Equally Well from the Centre for Mental Health

The life expectancy of someone with a mental illness is 15-20 years shorter than average, and while some of this is due to suicide, the main cause of premature loss of life is poor physical health. People with a severe mental illness are at least twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, and if they have cancer they are more likely to die from it.

Equally Well UK is a new collaborative that seeks to bring about significant and sustained change to this. Based on the Equally Well collaborative that has been running for four years in New Zealand, Equally Well UK is bringing together organisations that have a part to play in supporting the physical health of people with a mental illness. That includes health and care providers of all kinds (not just those specialising in mental health care), commissioning bodies, local authorities, education and training organisations, charities, user and carer organisations and many more.

So far more than 50 organisations have come forward to join Equally Well UK and agreed to sign up to the Charter for Equal Health.

Equally Well comes with three essential principles. The first is that no one should experience poorer physical health, or less than good care, just because they have a mental illness. The second is that everything they do will be co-produced and co-designed between people with lived and professional expertise. And the third is that Equally Well is a genuine collaborative of equal partners, all of whom have a unique part to play, but who together can achieve more than if they work in isolation.

Help become a part of the change. To find out more visit and follow them on twitter @EquallyWellUK.

Suicide Bereavement UK conference

Suicide Bereavement UK held their 7th annual conference, Breaking the Silence, in Manchester on 26th September. Over 400 delegates heard from a range of speakers including those who had been touched by suicide or had academic insight into the field.

The conference provided a platform for Dr Sharon McDonnell to share the preliminary findings for the national suicide bereavement survey, which attracted over 7,700 responses from UK residents. Analysis of the demographics of participants included their age, gender, ethnicity, employment status and their relationship to the person bereaved. A report of the survey findings will be officially released at next year’s Suicide Bereavement UK conference in Manchester, which you are able to book onto here. Dr McDonnell will also be providing a further update on the findings at the NSPA conference in February next year.

Support after Suicide Partnership: Invitation to tender 

The Support after Suicide Partnership is inviting expressions of interest from people or organisations who could lead a piece of work to help them develop the idea of a central hub of resources, information, evidence and guidelines to make it easier to set up local suicide bereavement support services.

They would like help to define the scope of the hub, set out how it might work in practice and propose the structure required to develop and sustain it.

You are able to read a brief of the tender here. Proposals are to be submitted no later than Friday 12th October 2018. 

Please direct your submission or any queries to the Support after Suicide Partnership Chair, Hamish Elvidge.

Bereaved children in Bristol to receive crucial support thanks to new Winston’s Wish service 

Winston’s Wish, a charity that supports children, young people, and their families after the death of a parent or sibling, is set to expand their successful face-to-face services to Bristol.

Every day, more than 100 children are bereaved of a parent in the UK, 260 children are bereaved of a parent each year in the city of Bristol alone. It is also notable that the suicide rate in Bristol is above the national average. Winston’s Wish supports bereaved children with services across the country and the new service in Bristol will offer bereaved children, their families and the professionals who look after them a range of face-to-face support.

For bereavement support, or to find out more about what services the charity offers, visit or call the National Freephone Helpline 08088 020 021.


Top suicide prevention stories

New NICE guidelines for suicide prevention in community and custodial settings

Public Health England worked alongside the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to launch NICEs new guidelines for suicide prevention in community and custodial settings. The guidelines cover ways to reduce suicide and help people bereaved or affected by suicides. It aims to:

  • help local services work more effectively together to prevent suicide
  • identify and help people at risk
  • prevent suicide in places where it is currently more likely.

You can read the guidance on the NICE website.


The latest research news

Childhood abuse and neglect increase the risk of self-injury and suicide attempts

McMahon, Hoertel, Olfson, Wall, Wang, and Blanco (2018) Childhood maltreatment and impulsivity as predictors of interpersonal violence, self-injury and suicide attempts: a national study. Psychiatry Research Vol 269

This large study from the U.S found that a history of childhood abuse and neglect increased the risk of suicide attempt, self-injury and violence towards others. Findings suggest abuse/neglect has a stronger effect on self-injury and suicide attempt than on violence; also sexual abuse increases risk more than other types of abuse/neglect. The authors suggest this association may be explained through the association between childhood abuse/neglect and depression, self-criticism, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and difficulty in maintaining positive feelings and wellbeing.

Suicide-related Twitter posts receive more replies and a faster response than non-suicidal posts

O’Dea, Achilles, Larsen, Batterham, Calear, and Christensen (2018) The rate of reply and nature of responses to suicide-related posts on Twitter. Internet Interventions Vol 13

We know that Twitter is used by people to communicate suicidal thoughts and intentions, but we didn’t know how people respond to suicide-related posts. This study compared replies to suicide-related posts with replies to non-suicidal posts. Suicidal posts received more replies (although 1 in 5 did not receive a response), had a faster rate of reply, and fewer retweets or likes than non-suicidal posts. The majority of first replies were potentially helpful (e.g. discouraging suicide, caring or clarifying), but some were dismissive or encouraging of suicide. The authors highlight that further research is needed to understand the effects of replies on suicidal thoughts or intentions, and to explore whether Twitter could be used to intervene, increase help seeking, or provide anti-stigma campaigns.


Funding opportunities

Suicide prevention in high risk groups research funding

The PHR Programme launched a new fund on World Suicide Prevention Day. It funds research to generate evidence to inform the delivery of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health. Our scope is multi-disciplinary and broad, covering a wide range of interventions that improve public health.

The primary aim of the programme is the evaluation of practical interventions. They will fund both primary research (mainly evaluative, but also some preparatory research) and secondary research (evidence synthesis); precise methods will need to be appropriate to the question being asked and the feasibility of the research. The deadline for applications is 19th March 2019, and you can apply via this link.



Upcoming events

Don’t forget to take a look at the NSPA Events page.
Updates this month include:

Date/Time Event Location
07/10/2018 Walking Out Of Darkness 2018 – Birmingham Victoria Square, Birmingham
17/10/2018 ManChat Conference The Showroom, Lincoln
30/10/2018 NHSE/PHE/NHSI Midlands & East regional Suicide Prevention conference- ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’ Leicester City Football Club, Leicester
14/12/2018 Towards Zero Suicide: Preventing Suicide, Saving Lives De Vere West One Conference Centre, London,Marylebone
18/12/2018 Can Anyone Hear Me? One day summits run by and for young adults on mental health Imperial College London, LONDON
05/02/2019 NSPA 5th Annual Conference – suicide prevention across the life course The Kia Oval, London
25/09/2019 Suicide Bereavement UK’s 8th International Conference Mercure Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester

Preventing suicide in Cheshire and Merseyside

Our ‘Vision’

Cheshire and Merseyside is a region where suicides are eliminated, where people do not consider suicide as a solution to the difficulties they face. A region that supports people at a time of personal crisis and builds individual and community resilience for improved lives.

NO MORE suicide

Zero suicide is our ambition; to transform cultural attitudes to suicides, for it to be known that suicide is preventable and for behaviours to change. Cheshire and Merseyside’s suicide rate is similar to the national average and yet 2 of our 9 areas have some of the highest rates in the country.

Cheshire & Merseyside has a population of 2.5 million with 9 local authorities, 12 Clinical Commissioning Groups, 3 Mental Health Trusts, 2 coroners’ officers, 2 police forces, 2 fire & rescue services, one ambulance service and is represented by one NHS England Sustainability & Transformation Plan.

With so many services operating across the regional footprint and with a population that works and socialises across geographic boundaries, a joined-up approach increases economies of scale, effectiveness and efficiency.

The Champs Public Health Collaborative co-ordinates this joined up approach, with strategic direction and oversight by the NO MORE Suicide Partnership Board. The role of the Collaborative is to energise the whole system and influence strategic partnerships to focus on prevention and use the best data and evidence. Accountability is to the Directors of Public Health, their Health & Wellbeing Boards and the Cheshire & Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Plan.

Five action areas will help us shift outcomes in preventing suicides:

  • Leadership
  • Intelligence
  • Prevention
  • Safer Care
  • Support After Suicide


The NO MORE Suicide Partnership Board seeks to influence and gain support for suicide prevention from strategic partnerships across Cheshire & Merseyside.

We have been inspired in our vision by contributions from Dr Ed Coffey from the Henry Ford system of Perfect Care, Prof Louis Appleby and Prof Rory O’Connor. We are fortunate to have Angela Samata  on our Board and to have nationally renowned charitable programmes on our patch; Papyrus, State of Mind, Everton in the Community, Hub of Hope. Local champions, leaders and those with lived experience at every level underpin delivery of the action plan.


Suicide intelligence is essential for the targeting of suicide prevention interventions and efficient use of resources.

Joint Audit Reports provide information on the trends and needs of the local community for targeting preventative actions. We developed a Suicide Audit Toolkit for a systematic approach by all 9 local areas. The 2017 Report identified men, those who are isolated, young people, primary care and mental health services as key targets for action.

We began Real Time Surveillance across the 9 local authority areas in September 2017; a process whereby there is timely notification by coroner’s officers to public health of suspected suicides, all conducted through secure data sharing agreements. The first 6 months provided evidence of; quicker notification of suspected suicides, referrals to our suicide liaison service, Amparo and signposting to bereavement support, earlier warning signs of potential clusters, triggering of community response plans and greater ownership from senior council leaders and partners.

A Suicide Surveillance Group now combines the suicide audit and Real Time Surveillance information with data from partners, such as Highways England, police, ambulance and rail, to focus on specific sites or types of geographic areas where preventative actions can be implemented.


We campaign together using Time to Talk and World Suicide Prevention Day campaign materials on 4 specific days;  Time to Talk Day, Mental Health Awareness Week, World Suicide Prevention Day, World Mental Health Day. This approach provides for stronger coherent messaging and greater cost-efficiency. In 2017 our WSPD Thunderclap reached 750,000 people.

A Suicide Prevention Training Framework ensures that awareness, knowledge and skills are pitched at the right level to the right audience. We have teamed up with the Zero Suicide Alliance and Mersey Care NHS Trust to promote the 20 minute See, Say, Sign awareness training; we have worked collaboratively with Wirral MIND on NO MORE Suicide Community Training, reaching 1500 frontline workers last year and our Mental Health Trusts use Connecting with People and other bespoke programmes.

Safer Care

Key elements for Safer Care in Mental Health and Primary Care Services are built into our strategy, see  NCISH. Our three mental health trusts (Cheshire Wirral Partnership, North West Boroughs and Mersey Care) hold regular learning workshops and are currently benchmarking themselves against these elements to inform a sector-led improvement approach. The Primary Care recommendations are being piloted in two CCGS with high suicide rates.

Community-based ‘Places of Safety’ for people at risk of suicide are provided in Warrington and more recently in Liverpool through the charity James’ Place , whilst crisis café type provision is also improving.  All 22 Merseyside Fire Stations have ‘Safe Havens’.

Both Cheshire and Merseyside have Street Triage provision. This is a mobile service, whereby a police officer and psychiatric nurse are able to provide an on-the-spot assessment and advice.  This intervention has resulted in alternative strategies to a Section 136 being applied on many occasions.

Support After Suicide

Those bereaved by suicide have three times the risk of dying from suicide themselves.  Alleviating the distress of those bereaved or affected by suicide reduces this risk and the risk for communities from suicide clusters or contagion and promotes healthy recovery of the affected community.

The jointly commissioned AMPARO ‘Suicide Liaison Service’ helps to prevent against further suicides, contributes to achieving zero suicide and reduces the economic burden of suicide.

The region is supported by a Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) service. These peer to peer support groups operate across Cheshire and Merseyside in Chester, Crewe, St Helens, Wirral and Liverpool.

In Conclusion

Our position now is very different to where we were in 2008 when we first began working towards a joined-up approach to suicide prevention. On our journey we have encountered and overcome a wide range of barriers. Solutions have often involved co-ordinated efforts that have utilised the public health infrastructure in conjunction with charities, individuals with a passion for this area of work and relevant public-sector partners. Throughout we have endeavoured to ensure the voice of real people and those bereaved is not lost.  Whilst much of the work is strategic and therefore long term, there is an urgency and deeply intrinsic human value to this work.

Skanska – Focusing on mental health within the construction industry

The National Suicide Prevention Alliance recognises the importance of promoting good mental health at work, and the vital role this can play in suicide prevention. Skanska, a member of the NSPA, is raising awareness of workplace wellbeing and mental health with its workforce, supply chain and the wider construction industry. They have a Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy which has four strands: Leadership, Building Capacity, Resources and Research, and Employee Voice.  Below are more details on their work in each strand.


  • When Gregor Craig became CEO in 2017 he made mental health and wellbeing one of his four key focus areas. He has set targets around improving mental health and wellbeing across the business.
  • Skanska signed the ‘Time to Change commitment’ in February 2016.
  • Skanska collaborates across the industry to raise the topic of mental health literacy, for example by being members of the Health in Construction Leadership Group and launching initiatives such as the recently created Supply Chain Mental Health Workshops. These commence in September 2018 as part of their Better Together value, whereby they share their experiences with their supply chain partners.

Building capability

  • Skanska has introduced a mandatory requirement for managers to attend Mental Health Awareness training and aim to have 75% of managers and supervisors trained by the end of 2020. This training is also available to all employees, and they want everyone in the business to undertake it.
  • They have trained over 880 of their 6000-strong workforce in Mental Health Awareness Lite so far, with 304 of attendees becoming mental health ambassadors.
  • Skanska has collaborated with a clinical psychologist to develop Suicide Awareness workshops available for all employees, and so far over 120 staff have completed suicide awareness training.
  • They’ve introduced a work impact questionnaire to identify stressors and put in place control measures for individuals or teams who might be experiencing workplace stress.

Resources and Research

  • Skanska provide employees with access to a 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme.
  • In 2017 they created Making the Connection resource cards for employees and their supply chain partners, which provide advice about what you can do or who to speak to if you’re concerned about the mental health of yourself or a colleague.
  • They have developed a post-incident plan called Out of the Blue, so they are prepared as a business to respond to the immediate and longer-term implications of a sudden death or suicide in the workplace. They also have a support pack, to help individuals, teams and the business recover from a sudden death or suicide, and deliver a workshop which details how a business recovers from the effects of a sudden death/suicide.

Employee voice

  • Time to Talk events are held twice a year to encourage people to have a conversation about mental health issues and know where resources can be found. Skanska also raise awareness among their workforce and supply chain on World Suicide Prevention Day and World Mental Health Day each year.
  • Skanska regularly holds 45 minute Stand-Up sessions: events to get the mental health conversation going across the entire Skanska workforce and any supply chain contractors working on site. The Stand-Up sessions are loosely scripted events that are led by the leadership teams for people working within their dept/sites/projects.

You can read more about Skanska’s commitment to mental health on their website.

The City of London Corporation’s suicide prevention work

The National Suicide Prevention Alliance recognises the importance of promoting good mental health at work, and the vital role this can play in suicide prevention. The City of London Corporation, a member of the NSPA, is raising awareness of workplace well-being in the city, promoting help seeking and providing practical support.  You can read about some of the important work they are doing below.

The City of London Corporation

Poor mental health – including stress, anxiety, depression and suicide – is recognised as one of the biggest local issues in the Square Mile, as it is across London and at a national level. Stress at work (whether work-related or otherwise) is one of the main reasons for sickness absence in the UK.

The City of London Corporation is the organisation with local authority responsibilities for the City and over the past few years has been targeting its local resident, worker and visitor populations to provide a coherent place-based approach to mental health and wellbeing across the Square Mile – the UK’s financial and business hub. Almost half a million people come into the City of London every day to work, from across London and the South East.

In the context of the workplace, Business Healthy is an award-winning programme delivered by the City Corporation’s Public Health team. It supports local employers to improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce, providing signposting, access to resources and guidance and hosting expert-led events.

The City Corporation has taken a strategic approach to promoting good mental health in the City, which covers the following areas:

  • Awareness-raising and fighting stigma
  • Creating a dialogue within the City around mental health
  • Opening a physical space to help people to de-stress and build mental resilience
  • Taking a partnership approach to suicide prevention
  • Establishing a Street Triage service

Awareness-raising and fighting stigma, through marketing, local campaigns, and strategic partnerships with businesses and the third sector

The City of London Corporation launched the City’s first-ever mental health and suicide prevention campaign in June 2017, called “Release the Pressure”. Based on a successful campaign developed by Kent County Council, the Release the Pressure campaign is ongoing and is aimed at those working, living in and visiting the Square Mile. It encourages people to recognise day-to-day stresses that could trigger poor mental health and to seek help for them. By advertising in high-footfall areas in the City and sharing campaign resources with the local business community, the campaign has seen much engagement and led to a tenfold increase in views of the list of mental health support services on the City Corporation’s website.

The City Corporation and Business Healthy supports, resources and promotes other local campaigns and initiatives to local businesses, residents and workers (including the City Corporation’s own 3,000-strong workforce). These include the local CCG’s “5 to Thrive”, the Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s “This Is Me” and green ribbon campaigns, the City Mental Health Alliance and most recently the Samaritans’ Wellbeing in the City tool. All of these are aimed at eradicating stigma attached to mental health – particularly in the workplace.

Creating a dialogue within the City around mental health, parity of esteem, and the role of employers in safeguarding employees’ mental health

A partnership with local businesses is in place, facilitated through the City of London Corporation’s Business Healthy network. Two-way flows of information and best practice are facilitated, including face-to-face and online, and events on mental health in the workplace are hosted for member organisations and their staff, including regular Samaritans’ led Suicide Prevention Awareness Training workshops.

Opening a physical space to help people to de-stress and build mental resilience

Business Healthy has facilitated a collaboration between Mental Fight Club, Barbican and Communities Libraries and Output Arts to open Dragon Café in the City in February, which is based on the successful Dragon Café that has been running in Southwark for the past five years. Funded by the City Corporation and Carnegie UK and the Wellcome Trust’s “Engaging Libraries” scheme, Dragon Café in the City is a six-month pilot and is hosted in a library in the Square Mile. It hosts free activities to help visitors de-stress and build mental resilience, referencing “Release the Pressure” as a key theme. Based on the concept of positive mental wellbeing, it addresses common mental health conditions, such as stress, depression and anxiety. Dragon Café in the City also provides a local platform for Thrive LDN’s Problem-Solving Booths.

Taking a partnership approach to suicide prevention and disruption of suicide attempts

The City Corporation has been leading on a long-term suicide prevention programme, bringing together the City of London Police, Samaritans, RLNI, the local CCG and primary mental health service and other organisations, to reduce suicides among City residents, workers and visitors. This work – focusing on helping those at crisis point – includes placing Samaritans signs on bridges crossing the Thames, distributing suicide intervention guidance to 10,000 commuters, and engaging with the local business community through Business Healthy, to deliver suicide prevention awareness training at a low/ minimal cost (see above).

Establishing a Street Triage service, to divert people in mental distress from being detained

The City of London Corporation and the City of London Police have developed a “Street Triage” programme (launched May 2017) with the local mental health primary care service. Initially introduced as a pilot, it addresses the large number of those detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. The triage moves those at crisis away from police detention to a more care-focused approach, reducing the large amount of resource used to detain those at-risk under police supervision. Mental health professionals join police patrols overnight four times a week, determining the best support for those in crisis on the spot. The evaluation of the first seven months of the triage found that 41% of all potential Section 136s were avoided. Most police officers agreed that the force had given a far better level of care to people in crisis since the triage began. Ongoing funding to expand the triage to seven nights a week has been secured.

To find out more about the work that the City of London Corporation is doing, please get in touch with Tizzy Keller – Strategy Officer and Suicide Prevention Lead, or Xenia Koumi – Project Lead for Business Healthy.

NSPA Conference Local Action, National Impact

NSPA conference rallies suicide prevention campaigners to make every action count

The annual National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) conference brought together more than 230 delegates from suicide prevention organisations from all over the UK.

“We believe in engaging the whole range of society in talking about suicide,” said NSPA co-chair Brian Dow, of Rethink Mental Illness, opening the conference.

Delegates heard presentations from and took part in workshops with a wide range of experts in the field, focusing on how action locally can impact on suicide prevention nationally.

Suicide statistics for England in 2017 look likely to show a fall, according to the University of Manchester’s Professor Louis Appleby, who also recommended paying attention to long-term trends rather than focusing too much on figures for a single year.

Suicide numbers vary across England and there are variations within regions, with the North and South West currently having the highest rates, with Southern coastal areas and Norfolk having high rates too.

There has also been a small rise in suicides among young people. Their risk factors include bereavement, losing someone to suicide themselves, exam pressures and isolation. Internet use by young people is also a concern, with it being used in a variety of negative ways, but some positive ones too.

The conference also heard calls from Professor Appleby for self- harm to be monitored and tackled as it is also a predictor for suicide risk.

New research from Scotland looking at young people aged 18-34 has shown that childhood trauma has a major role in responses to stress, which can drive suicide attempts, according to Professor Rory O’Connor from the University of Glasgow.

He said this information can be used to put the right interventions in place to help prevent suicide in those who are affected.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt highlighted plans for zero suicide in NHS settings among people receiving specialist mental health care at the conference. Paying tribute to the commitment of members of the NSPA, who are working to prevent suicide across all sectors, he described suicide as ‘the litmus test of the extent of the improvement of care in every part of mental health’.

In response, Ruth Sutherland, Samaritans CEO and co-chair of the NSPA said, “Every suicide is a tragedy. Three times more people die by suicide than by road accidents and, of those, two thirds have had no contact with mental health services in the year before their death.

Suicide is complex and it’s everybody’s business. It is only by working together that we can prevent the families, friends and communities of more than 6,000 people a year in the UK being devastated by the loss of a loved one to suicide.”

Other speakers included Dr Paul Litchfield of BT Group, who talked about the policies the company has put in place to prevent suicide linked to restructuring, and Bronwen Edwards of the Australian organisation Roses in the Ocean, who has built up an influential suicide prevention network of people with lived experience that reaches from the grassroots to the centre of Government.

 Picture caption: (left to right) Bronwen Edwards, Joscelyne Shaw, Brian Dow, Dr Paul Litchfield

Annual Members Meeting 2017

NSPA members and supporters gathered at NCVO in central London last month for the Annual Members Meeting. Attendees heard what the NSPA has been doing over the last year, and some showcased their own recent projects and findings in a series of presentations. The meeting – open to all members and supporters – happens every year and is a great opportunity for people working in all areas of suicide prevention to network and share challenges, experiences and ideas with each other.

There were also morning and afternoon table discussions sessions. The first allowed people to think and share about how the last year has been for them and how NSPA can help them further. In the afternoon the table discussions were on: men and suicide, working in a small organisation, successful campaigns, and how to better enable and empower people with lived experience.

We are very grateful for everyone who attended, contributing valuable insight into suicide prevention.

Here is a summary of the presentations throughout the day. Click the headings to download PDF versions of presentations slides

NSPA Review 2016/17

Over the last year the NSPA has delivered events such as our conference, local suicide prevention planning masterclasses, and mental health champion training; and we have produced resources including the Local Suicide Prevention Planning guidance, a suite of resources on postvention support, and resources for World Suicide Prevention Day a few weeks ago that reached far beyond our alliance members. All of these activities have contributed to a 32% increase in membership to 92 organisations and nearly 100 individual supporters. Over the next year we intend to: continue to grow and support our membership, with more special interest groups and regional events; enhance the website with more resources and information; and continue to be a strong voice that represents our members.

David Mosse, from the Haringey Suicide Prevention Group, then talked about how the loss of his son to suicide lead him to set up this multi-agency group to lead on suicide prevention planning and delivery across the borough.

The Bridge Pilot

Nicole Klynman, from the City of London, and Will Skinner, a Samaritans volunteer, talked about the challenges of suicide prevention in the City and how they have worked together with the police and health services on the ‘Bridge pilot’, which involved putting signs up on London Bridge, giving out leaflets to pedestrians to raise confidence in helping someone they think might be at risk, and delivering suicide awareness training to front-line staff and people who work near the bridge. They are now working on similar work for Southwark, Tower and Blackfriars Bridges.

Lived Expertise of Suicide: Inclusion, Engagement and Strategic Partnerships

Gill Green, from STORM Skills Training, and Jacqui Morrissey, from Samaritans, talked about an Australian initiative – Roses in the Ocean – which works to “engage and empower people with a lived experience of suicide in order to change the way suicide is spoken about, understood and prevented.” Their definition of lived experience includes having had suicidal thoughts, having been bereaved by suicide, and caring for someone who has suicidal thoughts, and they work to include a diverse range of people and ensure they are supported and trained, and their voices valued. It felt that there was support for the idea of this or a similar model existing in the UK, and the NSPA will continue to work on this.

Suicide and Autism

Jon Spiers, from Autistica, shared their research data on autism and suicide. Findings include higher levels of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and higher rates of suicide in people living with autism. The research also highlights how challenging it is to find appropriate support when one finds it very difficult to identify or discuss emotions, work in groups, or call helplines.

Building Collaboration, Investing in Communities

Bianca Hegde, from STORM Skills Training, talked about how they invest money back in to communities through free training and education for front-line staff, running their social change campaign #HeyAreYouOK?, and working pro-bono for organisations including State of Mind and the Greater Manchester Fire Brigade.

Emerging Themes – contact us for more info

Victoria Sinclair, from the Nightline Association shared their data on the challenges faced by students, the themes coming up regularly (including sexual violence, loneliness, self-harm, suicide and the transition to and from university) and their focus on how to support specific groups of callers better, particularly post graduates, international students and male students.

Suicide Prevention Masterclasses

Helen Garnham, from Public Health England talked about the 2017 Suicide Prevention Planning Masterclasses, particularly what was learned from them, which included how extra funding might be better invested, the desire for more examples of good practice, the benefits of wider collaboration, and the need for more workforce development.


Taking Action on World Suicide Prevention Day

Most people have no idea about the numbers of people who die by suicide every year in the UK, a survey for World Suicide Prevention Day has revealed today.

91 per cent of those who took part in the YouGov survey for the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) either under or overestimated how many people take their own lives each year in the UK, or simply didn’t know. Between 6,000 and 7,000 people die by suicide every year, that’s someone dying by suicide every 90 minutes, so it’s vital that we raise awareness and save lives.

The NSPA is asking everyone to Take a Minute to Change A Life for World Suicide Prevention Day, and the organisation’s 160 members and supporters (including Samaritans, MIND, Rethink Mental Illness, CALM, STORM and Network Rail) will be working together to galvanise action across the country to make suicide prevention a priority in the run up to the day on Sunday 10 September.

The YouGov survey also found that over a quarter of people who responded (26%) said that not knowing what to do and/or feeling worried that talking about suicide would increase the risk of it happening, would prevent them reaching out to someone.

The NSPA wants to change this by getting people to take simple actions to connect with others* on World Suicide Prevention Day, and by showing how easy it can be to make a difference.

Former Rugby League player Danny Sculthorpe said: “I felt suicidal after my back injury brought my playing career to an end. I lost my job, I felt I couldn’t support my family, and we lost our house. I felt as if I wanted to take my own life.

“It is hard for men to speak about how they feel. My mum and dad and my wife had? noticed a change in my behaviour and got me to talk about how I was feeling. Their calling me out saved my life. It was the best thing I ever did. Speaking out is a strength, not a weakness.”

For five years Danny has been a trainer for NSPA member State of Mind, helping players, fans and businesses develop coping mechanisms and mental fitness. “I love it, helping other people makes me feel good,” he said.

Tracy, 28, was in the process of taking her own life when her friend Jade held on to her and talked to her. She was able to help her to change her mind. “Jade saved my life,” said Tracey. “It was a pivotal moment in our relationship.”

Jade said: “Suicide does not end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else.”

Neil Laybourn, who was able to talk to Jonny Benjamin when he was about to make a suicide attempt, and convince him to get help, said: “Jonny was clearly in a lot of pain but I was able to talk to him and get his attention. Once I had done that – it only took a minute – I was able to keep talking to him and persuade him to move out of danger.

“Johnny and I are determined to campaign to let people know there is action you can take that is easy, simple and makes all the difference.”

Co-Chair of the NSPA Ruth Sutherland said: “The results of the survey underline the fact that many people don’t realise the numbers of suicides in the UK, and aren’t confident in talking about it. Suicide is everybody’s business and this is why the NSPA hopes to raise awareness of simple actions we can take in order to reach out to others, while campaigning for effective suicide prevention”.

For further information about National Suicide Prevention Alliance please contact For press enquiries please contact Sue Royal at Samaritans press office 0208 394 8348.

For out of hours enquiries, please call 07943 809162.


Notes to editors:

*Make a mate a cup of tea; Invite a mate to join you for a walk or a run; Take action as part of a campaign; Ask someone if they are doing okay; Connect with someone from a different generation and ask them for advice; Like a friend’s cooking? Ask them to share a recipe; Find out more about what you could say to someone who is struggling; Give a friend you are thinking about a call/drop them a text; Watch a video about someone else’s experience on the NSPA website.  All found on the NSPA website:

  • 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 is working with more than 160 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. For more details go to
  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2041 adults, of which 1845 opted in to the survey. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th – 25th August 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


National Suicide Prevention Alliance’s response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee Suicide Prevention Report

The NSPA welcomes the Health Select Committee’s report into suicide prevention, published today. The compelling written and oral evidence provided by many of our members has directly impacted on the Committee’s recommendations and we’re pleased that these reflect what we’ve been calling for. We are incredibly heartened by the increasing priority and focus on the issue of suicide, particularly since January and hope this will translate into greater action and the investment of resources into this life saving work. We support the call for effective implementation plans being in place across the country – they are vital to delivering on the Government’s Suicide Prevention Strategy. Our work producing a range of guidance including for local authorities in suicide prevention planning and supporting ‘masterclass’ events, on delivering services for support after a suicide and for online community moderators in responding to suicidal content are essential to facilitating this. The report’s wide-ranging recommendations too, demonstrate the need for all sectors of society to work together and take coordinated, concerted action to save lives. Collaboration is at the heart of our alliance, suicide prevention is everybody’s business and with our 100 plus members and supporters, we’re proud to be working with so many people to make a difference. We hope the Committee’s report provides more impetus and drive to stop people dying.