Warwickshire County Council, Public Health

The public’s health is our priority, where wellness and tackling health inequalities will be central to all we do, working collaboratively with all on outcomes that will reduce the preventable causes of ill-health, by using the least intrusive approaches necessary to achieve the desired effect, and focus on enabling and guiding people towards positive life choices wherever possible

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

Warwickshire County Council has published a Suicide Prevention Strategy for 2016-2020, which has tailored the seven priorities identified in the NSPA Strategic Framework to meet local need. This local need was determined through undertaking an audit of coroner’s records for individuals who died by suicide in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The findings of this audit were used to inform the development of the Warwickshire strategy. Audits are now carried out on an annual basis to further inform local needs.

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What are your current priorities?

Priority 1: Reducing the risk of suicide in key high risk groups

We need to reduce stigma around suicidal thinking and seeking help, encourage help seeking, and ensure that services are responsive and offer appropriate support. A targeted suicide prevention campaign, It Takes Balls to Talk, has been delivered across Warwickshire to reduce the risk of suicide in middle aged men. The campaign raises awareness of suicide and mental health at sporting events, delivers training to staff working in sporting venues and raises awareness at local partnership events.

Priority 2 : Tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups

We will commission emotional resilience and wellbeing services to support children and young people, and we have also recently established a working group to address self-harm across Warwickshire. This will be done by actioning recommendations outlined in a strategic needs assessment and any other recommendations that the group identifies. The group will take a system wide approach to prevention and early intervention of self-harm; engaging a wide variety of stakeholders in the process (including front-line workers and parents). The recommendations will ensure that consistent messages about information and sign-posting (of services and self-help resources) are shared.

Priority 3: Reduce access to the means of suicide

Raising awareness and reducing access to prescribed opiates will be one step to reduce these. We have developed links with Network Rail to support suicide prevention on the railways in Warwickshire. We have also linked in with staff at the local specialist mental health service to keep informed about the implementation of its action plan on ligature points in inpatient settings.

Priority 4: Reducing the impact of suicide

We will aim to involve survivors, families and the bereaved, in developing more effective and timely emotional and practical support. We will disseminate the new version of PHE and NSPA’s Help is at Hand booklet offering support after someone may have died by suicide. We have provided funding for two years to establish a pilot suicide bereavement support service across Warwickshire. The Kaleidoscope Plus Group was successful in bidding for the funds and has started supporting people across the county who have been bereaved by suicide by providing them with a safe space to talk about their feelings with people who have had similar experiences.

Priority 5: Supporting the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour

We have used our communications networks to disseminate sensitive approaches to media contacts in Warwickshire. This has included: workshops for senior editors within local media; sharing alerts regarding media programmes which contain information about or portrayals of suicide; and disseminated the Samaritans media guidelines to local media and communications leads within local public sector organisations.

Priority 6: Improving data and evidence

We have continued to follow and learn from national publications – including the PHE report on bereavement support. We have also produced and disseminated regular data reports on death by suicide in Warwickshire, and are continuing to undertake audits of coroners’ records to inform our strategic planning.

Priority 7: Working together

We have established a multi-agency suicide prevention group for Warwickshire which meets every two months to progress the local implementation plan. We have also forged a good relationship with Coventry Public Health, and will be working more closely with them on this shared agenda, particularly as Coventry & Warwickshire have received Wave 1 NHS England funding to support our suicide prevention plans.

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What challenges are you currently facing?

• Warwickshire is a large rural county and that can present some challenges with designing services to reach people. However, we have a good offer of public mental health and wellbeing services including face to face, online, telephone and via libraries.

• We are aware that a challenge in raising the profile of suicide prevention is inappropriate media reporting, therefore one strand in our Strategy is around working with local media and public-sector communications teams to raise awareness about the importance of sensitive reporting.

• We are aware of a need to reach key groups, with middle aged men being a priority. This group can be difficult to reach and therefore we are seeking to engage with middle aged men using creative methods, for example the It Takes Balls to Talk campaign.

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