The Committee considered a report of the Interim Director of Public Health which gave an overview of the progress made with the Trafford’s Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan and the finding of a local suicide audit.
The Consultant in Public Health and the Specialist Registrar in Public Health were in attendance to present the information and address the enquiries of the Committee.
Officers reported that suicide was a major Public Health problem; almost 6,000 people in the UK took their own lives in 2017. Suicide was the main cause of death for men aged between 35 and 49, it was unequally distributed in the community, with higher rate in the most deprived areas. The risk factors linked to suicide were multiple and they ranged between social, relational and individual issues. Although suicide rate in Trafford was the lowest in the North West and in Greater Manchester, an average of 15 people lost their lives every year. The context in terms of risk factors and inequalities was very similar to the national picture highlighted above. The majority of people who died by suicide were not in contact with mental health services, despite mental health problems were a key risk factor for suicide.
Officers went on to explain that Trafford had a Suicide Prevention Strategy and action plan in place which aimed to reduce suicide by at least 10% by 2020 and to provide better support to individuals, families and communities at risk or affected by suicide. A multi-agency suicide prevention partnership group had been established to oversee progress of the action plan. Work had started to roll-out a mandatory e-learning training package for primary care and other front line staff on suicide prevention to raise awareness of the issue, recognise early signs and encourage signposting and support. The Council worked closely with the Coroner Office and the Fire and Rescue Services to exchange data and information to understand whether focus work was necessary in particular communities. Work was ongoing in Greater Manchester to promote the “Shining a light on suicide” campaign to reduce stigma and increase awareness in the community through public facing web-sites and a social media channels. Two Trafford Councillors had specific responsibilities for suicide prevention.
The Chair welcome the Director of the Samaritans for Manchester and Salford who accepted the invitation of the Committee to take part to this evening’s meeting. The Director shared information on the work that the Samaritans carried out to reduce suicide through listening and making people feel heard and connected with another human being to ease their emotional distress. Two main points were highlighted: since 2013 there had been an increase in suicide figures and, this year, it had been registered a rise in the number of young women who took their life.
Members sought clarification on the e-learning training for Council’s staff. It was explained that the training was developed in collaboration with Health Education England to demonstrate how a conversation might spark a concern about someone’s mental health and the importance of acting on it and not missing the opportunity to offer support and signposting. There were additional resources for Council’s manager to foster good mental health in the workplace. Following a period of implementation, these resources will be reviewed to consider opportunities for enhanced training. Members were reassured of the positive collaboration between the Council, the Coroner Office, the Citizen Advice Bureau and the housing trusts which were all part of the Suicide Prevention Partnership. The Committee made enquiries on the tools available to GPs to triage patients at risk of suicide. It was explained that specialist GP training would be made available. Members agreed on the validity of “Every contact counts” approach and supported the plan to divulge training and information to ensure that all professionals in front line services were aware of mental health issues that could affect people and were prepared to offer support.
The following points were agreed:
1. To cascade to GPs information regarding Greater Manchester web-site / directory of mental health voluntary sector providers and to make available in Trafford GP specialist training on mental health;
2. To divulge information regarding Council’s mental health champions;
3. To cascade to all councillors information regarding the two councillors responsible for suicide prevention in Trafford;
4. To invite representatives of the University Academy 92 to be part of Trafford’s Suicide Prevention Partnership;
5. To feedback on the uptake of e-learning training on suicide prevention.
1. That: the content of the report be noted;
2. That: the following points be actioned –
a. To cascade to GPs information regarding Greater Manchester web-site / directory of mental health voluntary sector providers and to make available in Trafford GP specialist training on mental health;
b. To divulge information regarding Council’s mental health champions;
c. To cascade to all councillors information regarding the two councillors responsible for suicide prevention in Trafford;
d. To invite representatives of the University Academy 92 to be part of Trafford’s Suicide Prevention Partnership;
e. To feedback on the uptake of e-learning training on suicide prevention.
3. That: a progress report on the work based on the Suicide Prevention Strategy be presented in March 2020.