Worrying suicide figures in Calderdale sees new prevention plan approved

Numbers of people taking their own life in Calderdale  are higher than regional and national figures.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 11:00 am

Now Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board – including Calderdale Council and partner organisations – have approved a suicide prevention strategic action plan which aims to provide help and support at the right times, where it was possible.

Goals include reducing the risk of suicide in key high risk groups, tailoring approaches to improve mental health in specific groups, reducing access to the means of suicide, providing better information and support for those bereaved or affected by suicide, using communications and engagement including the media to deliver sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour, and supporting research, data collection and monitoring.

Each goal has a number of actions to help achieve them.

A suicide prevention strategic action plan

Public health consultant Eugenia Cronin said: “The vision is to be a place where suicides are eliminated and people don’t feel suicide is a solution to the difficulties they face.”

She said preventing suicide was also a national priority and local authorities are required to have a suicide prevention plan, supported by Public Health England.

The context was that reasons were varied and complex why people took their own lives.

It used to be accepted that six people would be affected by every suicide, but research now showed the figure was more like 135 and they would be at greater risk themselves, said Ms Cronin.

She said rates in Calderdale were higher than in West Yorkshire, Yorkshire and Humberside and nationally, statistically higher than 10.4 people per 100,000.

Ms Cronin said it should be remembered that the data was not “dry” – it represented real lives lost.

Calderdale Suicide Prevention Group has been set up to implement the strategy and action plan, and report on progress, she said, asking the board to agree the strategy, share it with partner organisations, promote the importance of suicide prevention and receive regular updates on the plan.

Coun Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said the levels in Calderdale were alarming and asked why this was the case.

“Do we know why it is particularly high in Calderdale and what actions could or should we be taking?

“It is my shock at the numbers in Calderdale and clearly we need to do something to help – I guess this is the beginning of it,” he said.

Ms Cronin said reasons why people took their own life were multi-faceted and the action plan focus was on things the local authority could influence.

Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Julie Jenkins, said a lot of work had been done around suicide prevention with the Open Minds website available to help, and resources could be shared.

Neil Smurthwaite, of Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said actions on raising awareness needed beefing up, particularly pro-actively managing people’s mental health before getting to the warning signs stage.

Dr Steven Cleasby, also of the CCG, said if partners could identify what was the evidence based approach to reducing suicide, resources should be put into that.

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