Article: A new era of suicide prevention
An NSPA suicide prevention blog article by Jacqui Morrissey, Co-Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance and Assistant Director of Influencing at Samaritans.
Ahead of the new Suicide Prevention Strategy for England being published later this year, we caught up with Jacqui Morrissey, Co-Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance and Assistant Director of Influencing at Samaritans, about why now is such a crucial time to join us in helping to prevent suicide.
This year will shape suicide prevention in England.
We started 2023 with more than 300 people from across the country gathering at the National Suicide Prevention Alliance Conference; professionals from voluntary, private and public sector organisations, as well as people with a range of lived experience, came together to understand the latest research in suicide, share best practice and ensure that we’re doing all we can as a sector to work together and drive change to prevent suicide.
We want to ensure suicide prevention focuses on those that we already know are at highest risk as well as those from marginalised communities where research and data is limited. We chose this year’s conference theme reaching further and deeper into communities to focus attention on what should be included in the new strategy and who must not be forgotten as the government sets out its commitment to preventing suicides. The agenda included talks and workshops about LGBTQ+ young people, Gypsy, Roma & Traveller communities, people from minoritised ethnic groups, and people who have experienced domestic abuse.
This event was a sell-out, which speaks volumes about the importance of suicide prevention and the appetite there is from organisations and individuals to connect and learn from one another to reduce inequalities and prevent deaths by suicide across all communities.
“This is a defining moment in suicide prevention”
During the conference it was announced by Fiona Walshe, Director for Mental Health and Disabilities at Department of Health and Social Care, that the government would be publishing a new Suicide Prevention Strategy in the summer of 2023. This is a defining moment in suicide prevention; long-awaited and welcome news to NSPA members who all care about and are doing all they can to reduce suicide rates.
“Together, we can make a real difference and drive change”
NSPA members have already been involved in helping shape the strategy; we held discussions with members last summer, asking for their thoughts about what should be included in the strategy and this evidence was fed into the Department of Health and Social Care and discussed in the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group (NSPSAG).
More recently, we also held a members’ discussion on targets and measurements for the new strategy – the findings from this are also being used to inform government thinking. We are planning more of these member events for the coming year so look out for our newsletter and Twitter for more information on these.
NSPA membership has grown rapidly over the past few years, there are now more than 1,700 organisations and individuals who have joined the alliance, compared to 341 in 2019. This increase is testament to how suicide prevention has come into sharp focus, particularly with recent challenges such as the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis. It also demonstrates just how many people and organisations there are working with communities passionate about preventing suicides, many of whom also have personal experiences of suicide.
We need more people to join us – there has never been a better time
We want to keep growing and diversifying our network so that we can diversify the voices we are sharing with government, expand our reach and learn more about what works to prevent suicide in a whole range of communities. In particular, we want to work together with organisations who represent and work with under-represented communities to ensure a greater range of voices are heard and platformed in suicide prevention. If you work with people from marginalised communities we would love to hear from you so we can listen and learn what else we can be doing to better support people in these communities. We would like to share your views with our network and policy makers, wherever possible.
There has never been a better time to join the alliance. The strength of the NSPA is being used to influence government decision-making and now, as we enter a new phase of suicide prevention, there’s the chance to make a real difference in the delivery of suicide prevention work at a national and local level.
If you are already a member, please do share our message with other organisations and peers that you work with. We look forward to seeing you at one of our member events soon.
About The Author
Jacqui is Co-Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) and is Assistant Director of Influencing at Samaritans. Jacqui joined Samaritans in 2014, and has worked in the voluntary sector for over twenty-five years in the UK and overseas with organisations including WaterAid and Age UK. Jacqui is responsible for Samaritans’ policy and influencing work, including its media advisory service, online excellence programme and work with different sectors as well as its policy, parliamentary and campaigning work. She has worked to support the development of the NSPA, which is hosted by Samaritans, helping it grow from a handful of members to over 1,700 members, which it has today.