Health leaders and campaigners are today calling on people to back the “zero suicide ambition” for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day (Monday, September 10), the call is being led by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), Cambridgeshire, Peterborough & South Lincolnshire Mind, Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council and the Zero Suicide Alliance.
The organisations want to end the taboos about suicide, to encourage people to talk about the issue and to intervene if they feel a loved one or a friend is at risk.
They are encouraging people from across the area to get involved by signing CPSL Mind’s award-winning STOP Suicide pledge and take the free online training provided by the Zero Suicide Alliance.
Tracy Dowling, chief executive of mental health and community care provider CPFT, said: “We understand that aiming for zero suicide across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is a bold ambition but if not zero, what is the right number?
“We believe that suicide is not inevitable and at CPFT our understanding and our clinical practice of suicide prevention can always continue to be improved.
“It should be noted that nationally only 30 per cent of those who complete suicide are seen by mental health services in the year before their death, so it shouldn’t just be seen as something for mental health organisations but for all of society to be aware of and get involved in preventing.”
CPSL Mind’s STOP Suicide campaign seeks to empower communities and individuals across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to help stop suicides by being alert to the warning signs, asking directly about suicide and helping those who are feeling suicidal to stay safe.
The pledge can be found on the organisation’s website - stopsuicidepledge.org/pledge/.
Aly Anderson, chief executive of CPSL Mind, said: “Suicide can be prevented and we fully support the zero suicide ambition in our region. Nine out of 10 people in our recent Cambridgeshire survey told us they share the belief that it is always worth trying to intervene if someone is feeling suicidal.
“The STOP Suicide campaign continues to engage our whole community in suicide prevention. If everyone is aware of warning signs and prepared to ask directly about suicide we can all support those around us.”
Free suicide awareness training can be accessed via the Zero Suicide Alliance website. The ZSA is a national collaborative of around 100 NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups and public health directorates.
It was co-founded by Steve Mallen from Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, who lost his 18-year-old son to suicide three years ago.
Steve – pictured with Tracy at the launch of the Zero Suicide Alliance at the House of Commons in November - said: “Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is now recognised as one of the UK’s leading localities for suicide prevention, bringing together NHS services, public health bodies, charities and community groups in a concerted effort to reduce the misery associated with mental illness and prevent the type of terrible tragedy which befell my family and many others in our area.
“Suicide prevention is everybody’s business, both locally and nationally. The ZSA awareness training is designed to provide everyone with the understanding and basic skills which will reduce suffering and save lives.”
Dr Kathy Hartley, consultant in Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “Working together as a partnership across community and public sector organisations is vital to realise our zero suicide ambition - suicide is everybody’s business and we all have role to play in suicide prevention.
“Our biggest challenge is reaching the 70 per cent of people with suicidal thoughts who have had no contact with services. We need to be connected with partners and community sectors and individuals to ensure that people in mental health distress do not fall through the cracks.”
Meanwhile, two bridges in Peterborough were today adorned with supportive messages to help anyone struggling with mental health problems for World Suicide Prevention Day.
Dozens of messages written on pieces of paper were tied to the sides of the following bridges - Eastfield Road (near Sainsbury’s) and Junction 16 of the Soke Parkway (near the city hospital) as part of the international initiative.
Fifteen messages were tied to each bridge side. These include ‘it is okay not to be okay’, ‘be strong because things will get better’ and messages advising people to contact the Samaritans if they are experiencing problems.