A new resource to help local authorities and other organisations prevent suicide clusters in their area has been published to coincide with this year’s annual World Suicide Prevention Day – which is held every year on 10 September.
Public Health England (PHE) says the new resource will help local organisations and councils identify and respond to suicide clusters which occur during a specific period of time or in a particular place – or both.
The resource published by PHE highlights the importance of putting in place plans for dealing with suicide clusters before they occur, to ensure an effective local response.
Responsibility for suicide prevention was transferred to local authorities in April 2013.
PHE plays a key role by providing best practice guides and support to local organisations, to fulfil the national suicide prevention strategy.
National Director of Health and Wellbeing, Professor Kevin Fenton, said:
“Suicide clusters understandably cause great concern – and may lead to hasty responses.
“No single agency is likely to have the resources or experience to manage these events on their own – and this resource aims to support local bodies in working together, so they can analyse any situation quickly and prepare a coherent, measured and co-ordinated response.”
Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, Professor Louis Appleby, added:
“Clusters of suicides may occur in communities, groups of friends or institutions.
“The people affected may live near each other, attend the same college –
or be connected through social media. Young people are particularly susceptible.
“This resource aims to help local agencies to prepare, to prevent one tragic death leading to another.”
PHE’s existing work in this area includes guidance to create a suicide prevention action plan and suicide data profiles on the Mental Health Intelligence Network, to help local authorities understand suicide rates and related factors in their areas.
PHE added that further resources for local authorities were currently in development.
Latest government figures show the UK suicide rate was 11.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2013, with a total of 6,233 suicides among those aged 15 and above registered in the UK – 252 more than in 2012, representing a 4% increase in one year.
Suicide rates among women have remained stable since 2007 – but the male suicide rate in 2013 was the highest since 2001, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
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