West Sussex Suicide Prevention Strategy
Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 49 and under and the leading cause of death in people aged 20–34 years in the UK. Suicide has a profound and enduring impact on families, friends, colleagues and the wider community. Between 6 and 60 people are thought to be affected by every suicide. There are also serious economic impacts; it is estimated that in England the average cost per completed suicide for those of working age is £1.67m (at 2009 prices). In West Sussex this equates to estimated suicide-related costs of £367.4 million between 2013 and 2015. This includes lost output, police time and funerals, as well as intangible costs such as loss of life and distress of relatives. 60% of these costs relate to those bereaved.
Suicide rates in West Sussex have been increasing since 2008, in line with national trends. A recent audit of all suicides in West Sussex between 2013 and 2015 has provided unique insights into local patterns of suicide, and an engagement exercise was recently carried out to determine the needs and views of front line workers in relation to suicide prevention.
It is widely recognised that suicides are preventable. The multi-agency West Sussex Suicide Prevention Steering Group was set up to coordinate local implementation of the national strategy ‘Preventing Suicides in England’.
The West Sussex suicide prevention strategy draws together findings from the suicide audit and engagement work to present a set of priority areas for action in West Sussex for 2017 to 2020 that are aligned with national strategic priorities. These are:
- Focus on reducing suicides in vulnerable middle aged and older people, particularly those experiencing financial difficulties and social isolation
- Focus on preventing suicides in people in contact with mental health services, particularly those recently discharged or disengaged from care
- Focus on preventing suicide in people who misuse alcohol or drugs, particularly those with a dual diagnosis
- Focus on reducing self-harm, particularly in young people
- Focus on preventing suicide in people with long term conditions or requiring end of life care, and their carers
- Improve support for people bereaved or affected by suicide
- Increase confidence and skills of paid and volunteer workers to support people at risk of suicide, maximising the use of existing resources and support
- Reduce access to the means of suicide, focusing on self-poisoning, railways and other public places
- Monitor suicide patterns and trends in West Sussex
The West Sussex Suicide Prevention Steering Group will oversee and support development and delivery of a local strategic action plan which addresses each of the above priorities. The strategy and action plan will be formally signed off by the Health & Wellbeing Board in October 2017.