£300,000 extra funding is going to be spent in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to support a suicide prevention programme specifically targeting middle-aged men.
One person dies every 90 minutes in the UK through suicide, with the rate for male suicides significantly above the average. In Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, suicide accounts for 1% of all deaths every year.
A joint bid by Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council won £300,000 for 2019/2020 from the three-year national initiative. The county’s suicide prevention programme will be hosted by Together We’re Better (TWB), a partnership of NHS and local government organisations, working alongside Healthwatch and voluntary and community sector groups across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
The programme will target middle-aged men, and people who self-harm, through a range of initiatives. It will introduce a service to increase support for people attending hospital for deliberate self-harm who are at high risk of suicide, as well as training for staff working primary care settings like GP surgeries and pharmacies.
In addition, the programme will work with communities and experts by experience to encourage help-seeking and intervention where someone may be at risk. Training for workplaces, and to support early intervention in communities, will also be offered.
Dr Waheed Abbasi, Clinical Lead for TWB’s Mental Health programme, said: “Stigma is a major challenge we deal with when it comes to mental health, but people avoid getting the support they need for many different reasons.
“We do find that men generally, and middle-aged men in particular, are often the most reluctant group to seek help when dealing with stress and mental ill health. Letting those problems build makes mental health crisis more likely, and suicide is one of the biggest killers of men in our society.
“That’s why this new workstream is so important, as it will work to identify more patients who are at risk and offer them support, in order to reduce the overall incidence of self-harm and suicide.”
Simon Whitehouse, Director of Together We’re Better, said: “Mental health is an important aspect of overall health and wellbeing that, historically, has not received the focus it deserves.
“That’s changed a lot in recent years with more resources being made available to build public awareness and to provide support through mental health services, and we still have got a long way to go.
“However, I’m delighted that we’ve secured this additional funding to help us reach an often forgotten demographic. Every suicide is one suicide too many.
“This additional investment in suicide and self-harm prevention in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is an important step towards achieving the national zero-suicide ambition.”
The funding is part NHS England’s drive to develop suicide prevention and reduction schemes across the country. The government has committed to reducing suicides in England by 10% by 2021, as announced by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in January 2018.