Derbyshire County Council is the upper-tier local authority that serves the population of Derbyshire (approximately 750,000). Since the transfer of Public Health into the County Council, the Council has had responsibility for co-ordinating suicide prevention work across Derbyshire, including the development and implementation of a local suicide prevention action plan.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
Derbyshire County Council (DCC) is responsible for co-ordinating suicide prevention work across Derbyshire. This work is led by the Public Health team. DCC leads the Derbyshire Suicide Prevention Partnership Forum, a multi-agency group that leads on work to reduce the number of, and impact from, suicides across the County. The forum is responsible for developing and implementing the Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework, and identifying local priorities. DCC also support co-ordination of suicide prevention work through the publication of an annual review into deaths from suicides in Derbyshire. The local response to suicide prevention is co-ordinated by Derbyshire County Council, but also includes the area covered by Derby City Council.
A copy of our strategy and action plan can be found here.
What are your current priorities?
We will be looking at how we can provide information on suicide awareness and prevention, to front-line staff across a range of organisations. This will include staff working in health, social care, job centres, housing support services, and welfare advice. The resources will include access to training, as well as promotional material that can be distributed.
We would like to ensure that the level of support offered to those bereaved or affected by suicide is consistent across the county. This will include mapping opportunities to provide support and working to ensure that all services are using key resources and support, such as the Help is at Hand resource.
Within Derbyshire men account for 80% of all deaths from suicide, and we have identified this is due to our male suicide rate being higher than the national rate. We will be looking at how we can co-ordinate and further develop work already happening to reduce the number of suicides among men through promotion of good mental health and wellbeing, and encouraging men to access help and support when required.
We have established a data group to review and collate information from a range of sources. This is used to enable the Suicide Prevention Partnership Forum to review a broader and more timely data report than that provided solely by reviewing annual deaths from suicide. This includes identifying higher-risk locations and communities with possible suicide clusters.
A priority added to the updated strategy is to ‘develop approaches to prevent and reduce self-harm’. This will include mapping around the related indicators for self-harm, identifying settings where self-harm may present and upskilling professionals to have conversations with people about self-harm.
What challenges are you currently facing?
We are working in a time when Local Authorities and other partner organisations are experiencing severe financial pressures, which impacts on the services that can be delivered, and reduces the support available to individuals who find themselves in extreme emotional distress. We have seen a decrease in the number of suicides in recent years, which we hope reflects some of the positive work that partners involved in the Suicide Prevention Partnership Forum have done. However, there is no room for complacency in our efforts to continue to further reduce suicides.