The first ever nation-wide review of suicide prevention planning at the local level in England has revealed that some councils are struggling to deliver on their prevention plans.
A new study from the Samaritans and University of Exeter has found that almost all local authorities have an action plan and a multi-agency suicide prevention group in place to drive activity forward.
However, the study, which was commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), discovered that some councils are having difficulties delivering what is in their plans.
The study revealed, for example, that 97% of local authorities surveyed planned to reduce risk in men and improve bereavement support. Approximately 20%, however, were not yet putting this into practice.
The Samaritans and the University of Exeter argues that sharing best practice and challenges across councils can prevent those who are yet to start delivery from ‘reinventing the wheel’.
‘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,’ said Jacqui Morrissey, assistant director of research & influencing at the Samaritans.
‘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.’
Jackie Doyle Price, the minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, welcomed the report’s findings and committed to investing in a programme of support to ensure the recommendations are delivered.
‘Every suicide is a preventable death and I'm encouraged to see together we are making good progress to tackle this problem,’ said Ms Doyle Price.
‘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 £600,000 to support local authorities to further strengthen their work and help drive down the suicide rate.’
Responding to the report, the chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said: ‘This new independent research shows that there is strong leadership from councils’ public health teams on suicide prevention, with many excellent initiatives delivered in partnership to help drive down suicide rates.
‘Councils are already working closely with schools, railway operators, supermarkets, hospitals and the police to prevent suicide and help those affected by it and are committed to further strengthening their prevention plans, alongside the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) and other partners.’
Cllr Hudspeth also welcomed the announcement of more funding from the Government.
‘The Prime Minister’s recent announcement that the LGA and ADPH will receive funding to help further strengthen local action to reduce and prevent suicide is a clear endorsement of councils’ locally-driven approach and a recognition that by working together and supporting one another, we can reduce rates of suicide and save lives,’ he said.