A new strategy to reduce the number of suicides in Blackburn with Darwen has been launched.
The local suicide prevention strategy is being launched to raise awareness ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday 10 September.
The strategy is the culmination of several years of sustained work between Blackburn with Darwen Council, Blackburn with Darwen Health and Wellbeing Board and partners to prioritise mental health and wellbeing, during which time local suicide rates have reduced. However, every suicide is a tragedy and there is still more we can and need to do locally.
In Blackburn with Darwen, there were 29 deaths by suicide during 2012 and 2013, of which 90% were males. Between 2011 and 2013, 12 out of every 100,000 deaths among both sexes were down to suicide. This was higher than the regional average of 10.1 per 100,000. However between 2012-14 this had dropped to 10.0 per 100,000, similar to the regional average of 10.3 per 100,000. However, it is estimated that during 2012 for each adult who died of suicide there were over 20 others who made suicide attempts.
The new strategy has been developed with the help of a wide-range of partners and stakeholders including Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Constabulary, Lancashire MIND, Age UK, Samaritans, Women’s Centre amongst many others.
It will seek to build on the improving suicide rates by encouraging more joined-up working and sharing of resources and expertise to prevent suicides, and provide better support for those who have been bereaved or affected by suicide.
Actions within the strategy include the development of early intervention tools so that people at risk of suicide and self-harm are identified early and programmes to help improve mental health and wellbeing are implemented in advance of situations escalating.
It will aim to work across all age groups to prevent mental ill-health and promote wellbeing from an early age and further promote the nationally-recognised ‘five ways to wellbeing’ (be active, take notice, keep learning, connect, give.)
The number of trained suicide first-aiders will be increased as a result of the strategy and the work of the borough’s newly appointed mental health champion Councillor Brian Taylor, also Assistant Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, will continue to be promoted.
The local Wellbeing Service will be as crucial as ever to signposting local residents to support on a range of issues and an online resource – Big White Wall – which provides 24/7 peer and professional support will continue to be promoted to residents across the borough.
World Suicide Prevention Day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and supported by the World Health Organisation, and many national charities.
The day aims to create awareness of and conversations about suicide so the stigma around it can be reduced, with key messages of ‘you are not alone’ and ‘it is okay to talk’.
Councillor Taylor said: “I’m delighted that we are able to launch our new strategy to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day and try and raise as much awareness as possible. Any suicide or loss of life is tragic and the impact it can have on families and friends is devastating. As part of my role as mental health chamption, I have been working to break down the stigma attached to mental health, tackling discrimination and increasing awareness. I am also out in the community listening to our residents about what they need for better mental and emotional health.”
Graham Burgess, NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG chair, said: “Our newly launched strategy with its action plan will ensure we continue to promote recovery and quality of life through effective, innovative and caring services.”