Organisations from across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, including Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, are joining forces to adopt a ‘zero’ suicide approach, where every death by suicide is viewed as preventable.

Mental health providers, ambulance, police and fire services, local councils, prison services and voluntary community organisations are coming together to make a real difference through what is an ambitious but practical strategy to tacking suicide. The plan sets out how they will reduce suicide by 10 per cent across the West Yorkshire and Harrogate area, and by 75 per cent in targeted areas.

Simon Long, Interim Deputy Director of Mental Health Acute and Community Services at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust is fully committed to a zero approach to suicide prevention. We are delighted to have contributed to the development of the West Yorkshire wide suicide prevention strategy.  We will continue to work with public and private sector agencies to look at new ways of making suicide prevention a central focus and to create an awareness and support for actions that prevent suicide.”

Mike Doyle, Deputy Director of Nursing and Quality in South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and regional lead for suicide prevention said: “The most important part of this collaboration is the view that suicide can be prevented. It should no longer be seen as an inevitable outcome for people, but as something we can work together to successfully avoid. It is not a foregone conclusion for anybody and there is always the hope that things will improve.”

He continued: “This new way of working is all about creating a culture where everyone can talk about their mental health without fear, embarrassment or judgement; and where everyone comes together to support people so that suicide is avoided.  It is important that everyone understands that suicide is not a terminal prognosis or inevitable and can always be prevented. “

In England nearly 100 people a week die by suicide. In 2015 the Yorkshire and Humber region had the highest suicide rate in England. It is the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 and the biggest killer of men under the age of 50, tearing families apart and leaving a devastating, lasting impact on many people’s lives.

The plan sets out how those at risk will be identified sooner rather than later – and before it’s too late.  It includes plans to develop a real time system to identify apparent suicides, as well as a high risk decision making tool to help GPs, social workers, commissioners, and those working in communities work better together. It also sets out how technology can help through the development of an innovative suicide prevention phone app, will improve suicide bereavement services, and provide better care for children, young people and adults at risk of self-harm and suicide.

This new approach of bringing agencies together to work collaboratively has already achieved dramatic results internationally and will encourage a culture change across West Yorkshire and Harrogate in the way we view and treat suicide. It will provide coordinated support to local people and aim to reduce the number of suicides significantly.

The new suicide prevention strategy will be launched on 21 November in Wakefield. Speaking at the launch will be Danny Sculthorpe, ex-professional rugby league player and trustee of the charity State of Mind. Danny will talk about his experiences of living with mental health and the impact this has had on his work, life and family. Professor Louis Appleby from the University of Manchester will also be attending to discuss best practice in suicide prevention.