Commit to zero suicides Deputy PM urges NHS

Commit to zero suicides Deputy PM urges NHS

The call comes as the deputy PM and minister and the care and support minister Norman Lamb co-host a mental health conference today, bringing together leading clinicians, policy makers and campaigners to discuss the future of mental health services in England. Almost 4,700 people died by suicide in 2013 in England. Almost 3,700 (78%) of them were men, with suicide remaining one of the biggest killers for men under the age of 50.

“Suicide is, and always has been, a massive taboo in our society. People are genuinely scared to talk about it, never mind intervene when they believe a loved one is at risk,” said the deputy PM.

“That’s why I’m issuing a call to every part of the NHS to commit to a new ambition for zero suicides. We already know that this kind of approach can work in dramatically reducing suicides.”

He continued: “This isn’t about blame. It is doing more in every area of our society to ensure that people don’t get to that point where they believe taking their own life is their only option.”

The nation needed to develop a culture where everyone can talk about their mental health problems without fear, embarrassment, or judgement, he said.

A mental health programme in Detroit, USA, which signed up to a ‘zero suicide’ commitment has reported that nobody in the care of their depression services has taken their own life in over 2 years.

Mersey Care in Liverpool has created a programme to eliminate suicide by 2017-18 which includes improved training for staff, focusing on the clinical skills needed to work with patients and their families to develop a ‘safety plan’ – a personalised care plan with clear ways of getting help 24/7, and working with other providers and interested parties to share best practice.

It also includes a dedicated Safe from Suicide team to provide advice, support, assessment and monitoring.

Health workers in the South West and in the East of England are already re-thinking how they care for people with mental health conditions to achieve zero suicides. Adopting these approaches across the country could save thousands of lives, said Nick Clegg.

Almost 4,700 people died by suicide in 2013 in England. Almost 3,700 (78%) of them were men, with suicide remaining one of the biggest killers for men under the age of 50.

The ‘zero suicide’ ambition aims to change how people in NHS care are treated so that they are not forgotten when they move or leave the service treating them.

This could be done by keeping in touch with patients who move back home after being on a ward; having a personal safety plan in place so that patients, family and friends know what to do and where to go for help if they need it and have regular contact with someone they know and trust.

It could also be achieved by bringing safety systems in line with treatment for physical health and designing a process for any member of staff to follow if a patient is at high risk of suicide. This would tell staff what to do, who to call, where to send the patient, and how to follow it up.

And GP, carer, and mental health services all need to be joined up so that at risk patients don’t fall through the cracks.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb commented: “When it comes to our physical health we believe the NHS should do everything possible to keep us alive and well – the same must be said for mental health.”

He added: “Suicide is not inevitable for people in crisis and these deaths can be prevented with the right care. Three areas have this vision already and are doing incredible things to improve and importantly to save lives. I want every part of the health service to be as ambitious."

By Caroline White,

OnMedica, Monday 19 Jannuary 2015

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