STOP Suicide campaign helps shape national ‘zero suicide’ strategy

A GROUND-BREAKING suicide prevention project in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has helped shape the new national policy on suicide prevention, announced by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Mr Clegg and Norman Lamb, the Minister of State for Care and Support, this morning called on all NHS trusts to commit to a new ambition for ‘zero suicides’ in order to dramatically reduce suicides in our health service. In doing so they will highlight the work already being done by the STOP Suicide campaign and three other pilot projects across the East of England, together with other projects in Liverpool and South-West England, in developing fresh approaches to preventing suicide within their communities.

All of the pilots, which have been funded by NHS England, have been looking at ways to implement learning from the Detroit-based ‘zero suicide’ initiative, led by Dr Ed Coffey.

Dr Coffey who, as Chief Executive of Behavioural Health Services at the Henry Ford Health System, in Detroit, pioneered the ‘zero suicide rate’ approach and encourages health providers to set ambitious goals in mental health services. The success of his work in reducing suicide in Detroit has gained him international attention.

The STOP Suicide campaign is led by the charities Mind in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough & Fenland Mind and Lifecraft, supported by the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Public Health teams. The campaign seeks to explore how the learning from Detroit can be used to prevent suicides across the county, with a particular focus on those who are at risk within the wider community.

“Around 75% of suicides are by people who are not in touch with mental health services and so we felt it was vital to look at how we could extend the ‘zero suicide’ aspiration into the wider community and raise awareness of the issue with the general public,” says STOP Suicide project manager Aly Anderson, from Mind in Cambridgeshire.

Since its launch in September last year, the campaign has been using social media, training, printed/online media, community events and public pledges to tackle the stigma/myths around suicide. Its key aims are to encourage individuals to talk more openly about the subject, be aware of the warning signs, ask directly about suicide if they are worried about someone and help those at risk to stay safe.

The project team is also delivering specialist training, including the internationally-renowned ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills training), to give people the skills they need to work with individuals at risk to create meaningful safety plans.

“STOP Suicide is still a very young project but we are already aware of situations where our resources or training or pledge have had a significant impact on individuals who are either at risk themselves or are concerned about someone else” adds Aly Anderson.