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.
Why is it important?
Preventing suicide is achievable
Sadly 212 Cheshire & Merseyside residents took their own life in 2019
For each death by suicide at least 10 people are significantly impacted, equating to 2120 people in 2019 and approximately 225,000 in the last 10 years in C&M
Suicide prevention and COVID-19
We need to talk about suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a rise in suicide is not inevitable and it is important not to speculate on links between COVID-19 and suicides. We must guard against sensationalist media coverage of suicide deaths that may increase risk in vulnerable people.
We do know that people’s emotional and mental wellbeing may be under particular stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting individuals, from young children to the elderly.
The COVID-19 pandemic emphasises that need to support people in finding solutions to their problems and to communicate more broadly the resources, tools and local services provision that can build individual and community resilience. Where feasible programmes are now being provided in a virtual/online format, some face to face programmes have been temporarily halted. Additional activity has been commissioned to meet growing demand for key messaging on looking after mental health and preventing suicide, such as the Kind to Your Mind campaign.
Strong partnership efforts to maintain and enhance the psychological support for communities across C&M will be vital in the recovery phase from this pandemic as psychological effects will vary in strength and duration.
NO MORE Suicide Strategy 2015-2020
Preventing suicidal behaviour in the first-place is our goal. Building individual and community resilience is the sustainable approach to changing suicidal behaviour and improved mental health.
We know that men and those from more deprived neighbourhoods are less likely to seek help, that stigma can stop people voicing their concerns and yet conversely following a suicide attempt many people turn to family, friends and neighbours for support.
Key actions towards preventing suicides locally are:
- Creating Suicide Safer Communities
- Lived Experience Networks
- Awareness campaigns- Stay Alive App, Kind to your mind, Let’s keep talking
- Media work with the Samaritans
- Suicide prevention training for all
- Middle-aged men community programmes
- Preventing deaths in public places
- Preventing deaths in those bereaved by suicide
Suicide Safer Care Services
Poor mental and physical health are key risk factors for suicidal behaviour. Whilst there has been much progress in mental health and primary care to identify patients at risk and ensure their safety, more can be done. The National Confidential Inquiry (2016) reported on evidence that helps in identifying what works in lowering the suicide rate both in mental health services and across healthcare generally.
Key actions towards preventing suicides in services locally are:
- Mental health patient’s safety
- Primary care prevention pilot
- Self-harm prevention
- Working links with C&M MH Crisis Care Concordat actions
- Working links with Places of Safety provision across C&M
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 of suicide clusters or contagion and promotes healthy recovery of the affected community.
Key actions towards preventing suicides in those bereaved and affected are:
- Suicide liaison service provision
- Peer support, such as the Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS)
- Bereavement counselling
- Community Response Planning
Multi-agency intelligence sharing and learning provides us with a better understanding of the needs of different populations at risk of suicide. Intelligence driven interventions and services to prevent suicides support the optimum means of us reaching the zero suicide goal.
Key actions to improve our access to reliable and current data are:
- Suicide Audits
- Real Time Surveillance
- Performance monitoring
The NO MORE Suicide Board drives the strategy. The Board provides strong leadership and strategic oversight in advancing support and advocacy for suicide prevention across Cheshire & Merseyside. The Board has a multi-agency membership chaired by Ruth Du Plessis, Director of Public Health, St Helens Council.
Leadership in the nine Local Authorities across Cheshire & Merseyside is provided by the Chair of each local group, supported by the work of the local authority suicide prevention leads.
Key actions in leadership and sustaining a co-ordinated approach to suicide prevention are:
- NO MORE Suicide Partnership Board that meets three times per year
- Strategic engagement with the C&M Health Care Partnership, the Cheshire & Warrington Public Sector Transformation Board, The Liverpool City Region and local Health & Wellbeing Boards
- Strategic engagement with the Zero Suicide Alliance and the National Suicide Prevention Alliance
- Oversight and co-ordination of the Task Groups
Ruth Du Plessis, Chair of the NO MORE Suicide Board and Director of Public Health for St Helens
Elected Member Lead
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council