Every 40 seconds, somewhere in the world, a person dies from suicide. According to The World Health Organization, that adds up to around 800,000 people every year.
Manchester has higher rates of suicide than the national average and local suicide prevention experts are joining forces with others internationally to raise awareness of the issue on World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September).
Professor Nav Kapur, Honorary Consultant at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust and Head of Research at the University of Manchester’s Centre for Suicide Prevention in the city, is one of the experts involved.
“There are a number of things happening here in Manchester as part of World Suicide Prevention Day – everything from putting out information about the tragedy that is suicide to bike rides around the world. The aim of the day is to try to raise awareness of suicide as well as reduce the stigma still associated with it,” he says. “Colleagues at the Manchester Self-harm Project (@mashproject) and the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide (@NCISH_UK) will be tweeting key statistics and recent research throughout the day.”
Professor Kapur also offered his thoughts on what developments there are to reduce rates of suicide and self-harm.
“We have a good idea about what helps to reduce suicide rates. Things like improving the recognition and treatment of mental health problems or safer prescribing of medication. Focusing on high risk groups such as those who have harmed themselves previously or are already in contact with mental health services can also be helpful. We do a lot of research into suicide and self-harm in Manchester and we hope our research at the University will directly improve patient care.”
This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Reaching Out and Saving Lives’ and how by reaching out we should consider the role that offering support may play in combating suicide.
Stuart Logan, the Trust’s Interim Head of Patient Safety and Risk Management, says that by working in partnership with other agencies, vulnerable people will have a lower risk of suicide.
“As a Trust we aim to ensure that by working together and being connected with other health providers and agencies such as the Police, Fire service and self-help services, people in the care of mental health and social care are supported and kept safe from preventable harm,” he says. “The Trust has a local Suicide Prevention Strategy which uses learning points from research and involves service users and carers in this hugely important area of healthcare. Engagement is incredibly important in this field and the Trust is as far as we know, the only trust in the country to have service user representation on the Local Suicide Prevention Group. The Trust is also holding a research seminar for staff to attend on their lunch breaks which will focus on a study that is investigating staff experiences of working with suicidal inpatients.”
Councillor Joanna Midgley, Mental Health Champion for Manchester City Council said: “On World Suicide Prevention Day it is important that we highlight the support and resources available to people with suicidal thoughts but we should also not underestimate the role that reaching out and offering support, whether that is just showing care and compassion to someone who is vulnerable or taking the time to listen in a non-judgmental way, may play in combating suicide. We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in mental health and other agencies to ensure that the right support is given to people who need it to reduce the risk of suicide.”
Lastly, Professor Kapur added that in his view, ‘doing the simple things well’ was potentially one of the best ways to improve the outcomes for patients. .
“It’s really helpful that this year the role of ‘reaching out’ is being highlighted. We know that social isolation is an important factor in suicide. We’re keen for patients to get the best care possible care when they do present to health services. There is good evidence that this can make a difference. For example, some of our research shows that reaching out to people who are in crisis by doing a proper assessment could strongly reduce the risk of self-harm in the future”
World Suicide Prevention Day, which is run by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation.
If you or someone you care about is feeling suicidal then help is available. You can contact NHS Direct on 111, or the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. Both services are available 24 hours-a-day.