Today, Samaritans and the University of Exeter publish the first ever nation-wide review of suicide prevention planning across local authorities in England.
Jackie Doyle Price, Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention welcomed its findings and committed to investing in a programme of support to ensure the recommendations are delivered.
Jackie said: "Every suicide is a preventable death and I'm encouraged to see together we are making good progress to tackle this problem.
"Local authorities have suicide prevention plans in place alongside £25m from Government over three years to support local areas' suicide prevention work and we continue to engage with them closely to assess their effectiveness.
"But I am not complacent, and I know there is much more to do. On Monday the Prime Minister committed a further £600k to support local authorities to further strengthen their work and help drive down the suicide rate."
Commissioned by LGA (Local Government Association) and ADPH (Association of Directors of Public Health), Samaritans and University of Exeter’s comprehensive study on local authority suicide prevention plans discovered an encouraging level of ambition and an untapped opportunity for greater collaboration.
They found that almost all local authorities have an action plan and a multi-agency suicide prevention group in place to drive activity forward, demonstrating a keen commitment to do what they can to prevent deaths by suicide in the face of limited resources.
Encouragingly, the majority of local authorities are trying to address all elements of the national suicide prevention strategy. However, the study discovered that some local authorities are struggling to deliver what is in their plans. For example, while 97% of local authorities surveyed planned to reduce risk in men and improve bereavement support, approximately 20% were not yet putting this into practice.
From their unique holistic review of local activities, Samaritans and University of Exeter believes sharing best practice and challenges across local authorities can prevent those who are yet to start delivery from reinventing the wheel. This will remove potential inefficiencies and, critically, help local authorities to fast-track their suicide prevention approach.
Professor Christabel Owens, University of Exeter commented: “This is a very important piece of work. We have a national suicide prevention strategy for England, but responsibility for delivering it is devolved to 152 local authority public health teams with very different demographics and suicide rates. Until now, we have had no knowledge of how they are approaching the task, how far they have progressed with it, and what challenges it poses, particularly in the light of cuts to local authority budgets. This report gives answers to those questions. It provides grounds for optimism and also a basis on which to build tailored support for local authority teams as they continue to wrestle with this demanding task.”
Jacqui Morrissey, Assistant Director of Research & Influencing, Samaritans added: “With this report, we really want to celebrate the ambition and commitment of our local authorities who are working hard to prevent suicide in their area. But good planning alone won’t save lives. Local authorities need support to ensure high quality delivery, and collaboration will continue to be essential as activity often involves health services and the voluntary sector. We believe there is so much potential to increase impact and we must not delay in supporting local authorities to maximise resources and achieve economies of scale This report is just the first step”.
Samaritans is a charity working in the UK and Ireland to reduce the number of people who die by suicide and help those struggling to cope. Samaritans believes that suicide is everyone’s business and, by working in partnership, with others fewer people will die by suicide.
For more information please call the Samaritans Media Team on 020 8394 8300 or email [email protected]
Notes to Editors
- The full report can be found here
- 117 local authorities submitted their suicide prevention plan. 150 out of 152 local authorities in England responded to the survey. Of those who responded, 99% have established or are developing a suicide prevention action plan and 92% have a multi-agency suicide prevention group in place.
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