Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed with a trustee that ‘all emergency staff should be trained in suicide prevention’.
Speaking at the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) conference, Mr Hunt announced a ‘zero suicide strategy across every mental health (MH) trust in England’, with £25m investment to support plans.
He highlighted the priority of reducing suicide rates among people under the NHS England MH care.
Pilot areas were announced in Merseyside, the East of England and the South West, which are developing initiatives to prevent suicide.
The Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool is implementing a zero suicide policy and is now in the lowest 20% of Trusts for suicide rates among its patients.
After the event, he tweeted that ‘no suicide is inevitable but every one causes profound misery to families and staff affected’.
Mr Hunt said: ‘Suicide is the litmus test for the overall quality of care that we’re providing for mental health.
‘We must now set our sights higher and become the first healthcare system in the world to aim for zero.’
‘Suicide is preventable’
Samaritans CEO and co-chair of the NSPA Ruth Sutherland argues that ‘suicide is preventable’.
She said: ‘We’re pleased to see an increased focus on the safety of people at risk of suicide who are in the care of MH services.
‘Suicide is complex and it’s everybody’s business.
‘It’s only by working together that we can prevent the families, friends and communities of more than 6,000 people a year in the UK being devastated by the loss of a loved one to suicide.’
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34.
People with MH conditions are at a higher risk’ of committing suicide, accounting for 25% of all suicides in England, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
In the Five Year Forward View for MH, the Government committed to reducing the number of suicides by 10% by 2021 and for every local area to have a multi-agency suicide prevention plan in place by the end of 2017.
Ms Sutherland added: ‘We need to build resilience across the country so that every local community understands suicide risk, how to recognise it, and how to put in place prevention measures, and target resources at those most at risk.
‘Together, we can ensure that no one needs to struggle alone and that effective, accessible and relevant support is available to anyone who needs it, wherever they live and whatever their background or status in society.’