Partnership working to reduce suicide

Man sitting with his head in his handsMen’s Health Week (14 -20 June 2021), brings a renewed focus on the need for our health and care system to proactively engage and include men.  Across West Yorkshire, nationally and internationally, more men die by suicide than women.  National figures published by the Office of National Statistics on 1 September 2020 show that Yorkshire and the Humber region had the highest suicide rate in England at 12 suicides per 100,00 population over a three-year period between 2017 and 2019. In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, there has been an increase from 10.6 per 100,000 between 2016-18 to 11.88 between 2017 and 2019.  

A report published last month (May 2021) by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) into factors related to suicide in middle age men has reinforced what our local data is telling us about risk and protective factors.  You can find out more from this short animation

The Partnership has been working hard to reduce suicide and the devastating impact on families, carers and friends across West Yorkshire and Harrogate since 2016/17 and has stated its aims in the Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism Five Year Plan

As a system, we are responding well, investing in a broad range of local VCS projects to engage men,  targeting employers, including those with high percentage of male staff, through great initiatives like Mindful Employer, working with State of Mind Sports and a two year suicide prevention project across West Yorkshire with Gypsies and Travellers.  We are delivering  successful awareness raising campaigns including Check In (targeting health and social care staff and volunteers), and the Sharing Voices work in Bradford.

The Partnership coordinates a monthly voluntary sector learning forum for organisations who work to prevent male suicide, as well as a quarterly learning and sharing forum – the Suicide Prevention Advisory Network. The Suicide Prevention Advisory Network (SPAN) Annual Review 2019-2020 and Annual Plan 2020-2021 provides a review of developments (2019/2020) and the work plan for 2020/2021.

In 2020 the Partnership secured more than £1.5 m in funding from NHS England/NHS Improvement to reduce the numbers of suicide across the area over the next three years.

The funds will focus on two key areas:

  • Prevention beyond secondary services, for example place-based community prevention work targeting middle-aged men, self-harm and primary care support
  • Reduction within services via quality improvement for example self-harm care within acute hospitals and within mental health service.

The additional funds will be a huge help in reaching the ambitions of WY&H HCP which is all about saving people’s lives.

The main aim of the Suicide Prevention Strategy is to develop working relationships with partner agencies to provide an evidence based, practical framework for suicide prevention across the area to reduce suicide. This supports and complements the work taking place in the six local places (Bradford district and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield). The most important part of this collaboration is the view that suicide can be prevented. It should no longer be seen as an inevitable outcome for people, but as something we can work together to successfully avoid. It is not a foregone conclusion for anybody and there is always the hope that things will improve.

Contact Jessica.parker@swyt.nhs.uk Suicide Prevention Project Manager, to get involved in the SPAN, and please take the training, to save a life.