Despite Covid-19, partners across Humber, Coast and Vale have continued to deliver new services to prevent suicides. There has never been a more crucial time to have a conversation around suicide prevention.

Jo Kent, Suicide Prevention Programme Lead, Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership

Despite Covid-19, partners across Humber, Coast and Vale have continued to deliver new services to prevent suicides.

We continue to work in collaboration with our communities, to train the public, reduce the stigma around suicide and remain innovative.

There has never been a more crucial time to have a conversation around suicide prevention.

I feel so privileged to be the Humber, Coast and Vale Suicide Prevention Programme Lead, despite what people perceive to be a heavy, dark subject. You would think, perhaps, that it would be a difficult topic to engage people in, however I find the opposite to be true, individuals frequently open up and tell their story about how they or others they know have been impacted by a suicide, or how they themselves have been in a place whereby suicide became an option.

Many of the people I connect with want to make a difference and to prevent suicides. They provide ideas, learning, connections that support the programme and undoubtedly support me in my role. Some individuals become involved in different task and finish groups and support in developing services.

I see my role as a connector and every link that I make will strengthen our community and ultimately save lives and reduce the stigma around suicide. I still find it difficult to believe that in 2020, one of my main aims is to reduce the stigma of mental health and suicide. That said there has never been a time in my career that has been as open about these topics; maybe we are finally winning the battle!

One of the ways that we tackle stigma and raise awareness is by going out into our communities to offer training to the public. Earlier this year, before lockdown, we toured the Humber, Coast and Vale area to train individuals in face-to-face suicide prevention workshops.

Almost 500 people signed up to these workshops so we added more and more sessions to meet demand. We were astounded by the response as we had originally hoped to train 120 people. This demonstrated the interest and willingness to learn more about suicide prevention among our communities.

We have developed real-time surveillance across Humber, Coast and Vale  and have provided a service to those who have lost a loved one or have been impacted by suicide. One of our key priorities is working with our mental health organisations using the 10 key elements for safer care for patients, which  is based on the evidence of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health.

A second priority is focusing on self-harm, we are aware that our services  are varied and we want to ensure that we are able to provide support where there are gaps. We will do this in collaboration with those that have lived experience.

Our third priority is working with men. Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest rates of male suicide in 2019. We are working with men to ensure that we can develop community groups across Humber, Coast and Vale and to develop a service that men will reach out to.

There is a lot to do, as you can see but with the level of motivation, passion, connections and willingness to make a difference I know we will achieve it all. We all have a part to play and it is only by working together that we will reduce suicides.

Leo Stevens

Author Leo Stevens

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