Gaps in suicide prevention planning putting vulnerable people at risk

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A survey of local authorities in England by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Suicide and Self-harm Prevention (APPG) found that around 30 per cent do not have a local suicide prevention action plan, around 40 per cent do not have a multi-agency suicide prevention group and around 30 per cent do not collect local suicide data.

The report found that there are significant gaps in the local implementation of the national strategy for suicide prevention. Part of the strategy is for local public health teams with the voluntary sector and others to create a local plan. Examples of the types of actions within local plans are suicide training for frontline staff in key areas, such as health and social services, who work with high risk groups and identifying children and young people with mental health, problems early and making appropriate support available.

The government has previously indicated that it is not minded to make local suicide prevention plans mandatory, preferring to allow more freedom for local decision making, though local authorities have received guidance from Public Health England.

The report contains a number of recommendations, particularly that an audit, action plan and multi- agency group is set up in every local authority area. The APPG would also like to see more support from the 15 local Public Health England centres across England to contact public health teams in areas where this is not happening to encourage development of suicide prevention work and offer to provide practical support.

Coroners should collect data about suicide which should be made available automatically to health teams, the APPG said, and Chief Coroner should issue guidance to Senior Coroners to allow public health teams easier access to their records.

Local suicide prevention groups have said that they would value good examples of suicide prevention work that has been successful in other areas.

Helplines Partnership believes that local helplines services are an important part of local suicide prevention work. What’s your experience been in accessing local suicide prevention work? Tell us below or on twitter using the hashtag #helplinesarehere

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