The Zero Suicide event held at Bradford City's ground
The Zero Suicide event held at Bradford City’s ground

Tragically one person dies every two hours as a result of suicide in England.   When someone takes their own life, the effect on family, friends and loved ones is devastating.  Suicide touches everyone – and the emotional toll on those left behind remains long after the event.

Despite the devastating impact this has on the people left behind, societies often brush suicide under the carpet. By creating a more open environment for people to talk about suicide, more people may be encouraged to speak out and end the stigma attached to suicide. Public figures are coming forward to raise awareness on a subject that’s been called a ‘silent epidemic’, such as British rapper, Professor Green, talking openly about his estranged father taking his own life and former footballer Clarke Carlisle speaking out about his attempt to take his own life.

Bringing people together from communities and agencies across the region, a Building Resilience and Wellbeing Zero Suicide event has taken place on 8 February 2016 at Bradford City Football Stadium, in a commitment to reduce the number of people taking their own lives to zero.

Sharing good practice and key learnings, NHS mental health trusts across West Yorkshire came together as part of an NHS Vanguard programme to develop and adopt best practice in urgent emergency mental health care.  The alliance of mental health trusts have been working in collaboration with local communities, public and private agencies to look at new ways of making suicide prevention a central focus.

Focussing on the interventions that make the most impact, delegates attending the conference heard first-hand experience  from internationally renowned expert David W Covington on developing the ‘Zero Approach’ to suicide prevention. David is the co-lead of the US National Action Alliance Zero Suicide Advisory Group and has been inspiring leaders around the world to make suicide prevention a key priority for healthcare.

Dr Mike Doyle from the South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust also shared the outcomes from recent public health audits across West Yorkshire to provide a true picture of suicides figures in the region. Dr Mike Doyle has been instrumental in developing consistent models for risk assessment and suicide prevention.

Over 150 delegates from across West Yorkshire attended the event, including representatives from the emergency services, the police, health workers, voluntary agencies, colleges and universities.   The conference is part of a wider campaign by the Government to bring treatment for mental health issues out of the shadows and in line with physical health.

Attendees also heard Professor Nav Kapur, give an address on preventing suicide in mental health services. Professor Kapur has been leading on the suicide work programme for the longstanding Manchester University led ‘National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness’.

Dr Rebecca Martinez, Consultant Psychiatrist, Mersey Care NHS Trust shared her experience of using the ‘Zero Approach’ in the UK.  Attendees heard how pioneering health workers in Liverpool are already re-thinking how they care for people with mental health conditions to achieve this ambition for ‘zero suicides’ in our own health service.

Chief Executive of Bradford District Care Foundation NHS Trust Simon Large said: “The Trust is fully committed to the ‘Zero Approach’ to suicide prevention and has been inspired by hearing the experience of others who have adopted this aspiration.  As a result of this conference we will contribute to the development of a West Yorkshire wide zero suicide strategy and continue to work with public and private sector agencies and the public to create an awareness and support for actions that prevent suicide. This is an important starting point in developing actions across public sector bodies working jointly with local communities and other organisations to implement a zero approach in keeping with so many other approaches to health and safety across our society. We look forward to launching a comprehensive strategy later in the year.”

Need support?

If you need help or are worried about someone who may need support for the first time, please contact your local doctor (your GP) who will be able to help.

If you are concerned about your own mental health or someone you care for please contact your community mental health service – if you live in Bradford, Airedale or Wharfedale, call 01274 256131; if you live in Craven, please call 01535 625511.

If you need urgent help or care, please contact our First Response Service on 01274 221181 that offers crisis support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.