NHS in East Lancs should aim for zero suicides

Gordon Birtwistle has urged health bosses in East Lancashire to back a campaign aimed at dramatically reducing the number of suicides across the NHS.


Health Minister Norman Lamb visits Burnley General Hospital on Thursday 22nd January.

Local MP Gordon Birtwistle has called on local NHS trusts to commit to an ambition for ‘zero suicides’ in their care.

It follows Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s call for an overhaul of how the health service treats mental health.

Today Gordon Birtwistle said East Lancashire NHS Trust should think about how it could to provide better provide care for people suffering depression and other serious illnesses.

He said: “Latest figures show 715 people took their own lives in the North West, with 4,700 suicides in England in 2013. More than three quarters of these deaths were men.

“This is not inevitable. These tragic deaths can be prevented. The majority of people who are feeling suicidal do not want to die. We have to do more to make sure people have the support they need so they do not get to the point where they believe taking their own life is their only option.

“That’s why I hope East Lancashire NHS Trust commits to the new ambition of zero suicides in our area. We have have to work together to remove the stigma around talking about suicide, so people are not afraid to ask for help.”

Three areas - Liverpool, the South West and East England have already created programmes to eliminate suicide by 2017/18 and steps could include:

  • Keeping in touch with patients who move back home after being on a ward
  • Having a personal safety plan in place so patients, family and friends know what to do and where to go for help if they need it
  • Bringing safety systems in line with treatment for physical health - for example, designing a process for any member of staff to follow if a patient is at high risk of suicide. This would tell staff what to do, who to call, where to send the patient, and how to follow it up
  • Joining all services up so that patients who are at risk will not fall through the cracks - linking GP, carers and mental health services

Nick Clegg said: “Suicide is, and always has been, a massive taboo in our society. People are genuinely scared to talk about it, never mind intervene when they believe a loved one is at risk.

“This isn’t about blame. It is about doing more in every area of our society to ensure that people don’t get to that point where they believe taking their own life is their only option.”

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