Self-Harm Needs Assessment (2019)
Compared to the England average, the rate of emergency hospital admissions for self-harm is significantly higher in West Sussex. As only the most serious cases are admitted to acute care and provide the only data, defining the true extent of self-harm in the county is problematic. Based on national data, we can assume these emergency cases are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
- There are marked inequalities in self-harm, with higher rates among areas with greater deprivation and in young people and females. In 2017/18, young people aged 10-24 accounted for 39% of all admissions for self-harm in West Sussex and 80% of those admitted were female.
- Contrary to self-cutting making up the national majority, 88% of admissions in West Sussex in the five years between 2013/14 and 2017/18 were due to self-poisoning. The majority of these were from widely available over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol.
- Whilst 84% of people admitted for self-harm between 2016/17 and 2017/18 were admitted once, readmissions represent just over a third of admissions.
- Most evidence shows that self-harm increases the risk of suicide. The 2017 West Sussex Suicide Audit (see below) found that 34% of suicides had a history of self-harm, increasing to over 50% for under 24-year olds.
This needs assessment considers the risks, protective factors and drivers for self-harm in all age groups. It looks at opportunities and existing provision for prevention in West Sussex and outlines a number of priority areas where further work is needed.
West Sussex Suicide Prevention Strategy (2017 - 2020)
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.
Serious economic impacts follow a suicide; the estimated average cost per completed suicide for those of working age is £1.67m (at 2009 prices) in England. 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.
Rates of suicide in West Sussex have been increasing since 2008, in line with national trends, but it is widely recognised that suicides are preventable.
Since the publication of the national ‘Preventing Suicides in England’ strategy, a multi-agency West Sussex Suicide Prevention Steering Group has been set up to coordinate local implementation of the strategy. This steering group oversees and supports the development and delivery of the local strategic action plan, the West Sussex Suicide Prevention Strategy (2017-2020).
This local strategy draws together findings from two key pieces of work:
- An audit of all the suicides in West Sussex from 2013-2015, which provides unique insights into local patterns of suicide
- A consultation to determine the needs and views of frontline workers in relation to suicide prevention.
The strategy presents a set of priority action areas in West Sussex for 2017 to 2020 that are aligned with national strategic priorities. These focus on:
- reducing suicides in vulnerable middle aged and older people, particularly those experiencing financial difficulties and social isolation
- preventing suicides in people in contact with mental health services, particularly those recently discharged or disengaged from care
- preventing suicide in people who misuse alcohol or drugs, particularly those with a dual diagnosis
- preventing suicide in people with long term conditions or requiring end of life care, and their carers
- reducing self-harm, particularly in young people
- improving support for people bereaved or affected by suicide
- increasing confidence and skills of paid and volunteer workers to support people at risk of suicide, maximising the use of existing resources and support
- reducing access to the means of suicide, focusing on self-poisoning, railways and other public places
- monitoring suicide patterns and trends in West Sussex.
The West Sussex Suicide Prevention Steering Group will oversee and support development and delivery of the local strategic action plan. You can download this strategy, along with the Suicide Audit, Suicide Prevention Consultation and other relevant documents, below.