Influential new Leeds study to help prevent suicide

Leeds, Leeds Star

A highly regarded study of suicide used to understand who is at risk and where help can be targeted is being published on 29th September to coincide with a launch event at the city’s Town Hall.

The suicide audit completed by public health professionals in Leeds is considered a ‘gold standard’ and is recommended by Public Health England as a model for other areas to learn from. By knowing more details about suicide, experts know interventions and effective prevention can be better targeted.

The previous audit completed in 2012 has influenced action for the city including special suicide prevention training for frontline council and health staff as well as other volunteers; support for work with men in areas of the city with higher rates of suicide; a crisis card helping people access services wider than mental health services; co-production of media guidelines on reporting suicide and innovative ‘postvention’ work, involving Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service which supports local people who have been affected by the death of someone by suicide.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“This report confirms suicide is one of the biggest causes of death particularly affecting men under 50 in Leeds. We know however that suicide is not inevitable and that we all have a key role to play in order to help save the lives of those with suicidal thoughts.

“Suicide prevention will continue to be a priority in the city and the wide network of individuals and organisations working together to support people affected, highlights the key work taking place in Leeds to create a city which is a healthier and better place to live.”

Victoria Eaton, Consultant in Public Health, Leeds City Council said:

“The extra detail in the latest audit gives us valuable information to plan the best way to provide interventions and support. We have known for some while the typical profile of people more likely to be at risk and this has helped us deliver interventions where most needed.

“There are many myths about suicide which obscure the evidence that those most likely to kill themselves are middle aged men. The extra detail from the new audit makes clear that we can continue to target work and help professionals spot the need to intervene.”

Professor Alan White, a Registered Nurse, is Founder and Co-director of the Centre for Men’s Health at Leeds Beckett. He said:

“The figures clearly show nearly five times more men compared to women die through suicide, while men generally make far less access to mental health support. There’s a range of factors which can undermine men’s sense of worth, such as facing employment difficulties; divorce and loss of contact with children; long term health conditions and these negative life events result in low resilience that can culminate in suicide. The better this is understood by people, the easier it is to intervene when someone may be facing these stresses.”

Anyone wanting advice can contact:

Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90

Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service: 0113 260 9328.

Details of many services which can help are on a free poster available to download at http://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/CrisisCard.pdf