A new National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA), aimed at reducing the number of suicides in England and improving support for those affected by suicide, has been launched. With members including Samaritans, Rethink Mental Illness and the Department of Health (DoH), the NSPA is supported by a government grant of £120,000 over two years to deliver a work-plan of national priorities.
The NSPA has developed from the Call to Action for Suicide Prevention in England, which brought together more than 50 national organisations from across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Sitting alongside the Suicide Prevention Strategy for England, the Call to Action looked at ways to actively support suicide prevention.
The core aims of the NSPA are:
- To build an active network of organisations committed to reducing suicide and supporting those affected by suicide.
- To raise awareness and build knowledge of issues around suicide.
- To deliver commitment and influence to suicide prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.
- To mobilise action driven by shared priorities.
- To share good practice.
- To improve support for people at risk of suicide and for those worried about a loved one and those bereaved by suicide.
Over the next two years, the NSPA aims to provide support materials for local authorities, establish a shared position and course of action on suicide-related websites. It will also commission a report identifying nationally available suicide prevention training and develop a national framework to support those bereaved by suicide.
Families, friends and carers can be a valuable source of support and information for those at risk of suicide. A number of Royal Colleges and relevant professional organisations have formally agreed and recognised the understandable worries surrounding the balance between a person's right not to share information about themselves or their care, and the concerns of a medical practitioner who believes there is a serious risk of suicide. This supports the core aims of the suicide prevention strategy for England, which places a new emphasis on families bereaved or affected by suicide.
They have agreed that that:
"Good practice will also include providing families with non-person specific information in their own right, such as how to access services in a crisis, and support services for carers."
"Even where a person wishes particular information not to be shared, this does not prevent practitioners from listening to the views of family members, or prevent them from providing general information."
The NSPA, alongside the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group, NHS England and Public Health England, are committed to working together to improve support for those at risk of suicide when they need it most.
A key statement in the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Annual Report makes it clear that the Department of Health, together with Public Health England, NHS England and NSPA partners, plan to improve monitoring of suicide and self-harm. They will learn the lessons from previous deaths to improve future services and staff training, develop guidance to support local implementation and provide a national forum for sharing good local practice.
Care Services Minister, Norman Lamb MP said:
"Losing a loved one to suicide is a tragedy and we are committed to reducing deaths from suicide and improving mental health across the country. That is why we have recently published a mental health action plan to drive services to improve faster, announced new plans for helping people attending A&E who self-harm and published a new agreement to improve information and support for families who are concerned about a relative who may be at risk of suicide.
"It is vital these partners work together to make a real impact in reducing suicide and supporting those affected by it. This partnership will create a real opportunity to make sure we are working together more effectively to make this happen."
Hamish Elvidge, Co-Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance said:
"Suicide is preventable. The new National Suicide Prevention Alliance will help build awareness and influence and assist in the sharing of best practice. Most importantly it will help rally action so that fewer lives are lost by suicide."