Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. Every year, suicide is among the top twenty leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every forty seconds.
The theme this year is ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’. North Devon Link Service Manager Russ Drayton and Peer Support Worker and Trainer Marie Ash, who set up the Devon and Torbay Suicide Prevention Alliance (DTSPA) have been working closely with One Northern Devon, a collaboration of public, voluntary and community sector organisations working in Northern Devon, to deliver a Suicide Prevention Plan. The ‘Stop Suicide Organisational Pledge’ is for public sector, third sector and private sector organisations in North Devon and Torridge and promotes the ‘It’s safe to talk about suicide’ message.
Russ Drayton, joint lead for the Devon and Torbay Suicide Prevention Alliance, said: “People are often very anxious about how to talk about suicide, and worry that if they ask someone if they are feeling suicidal that it might put the thought in their head, but this is not the case. If a person is suicidal, the idea is already there. If they aren’t suicidal, it won’t do any harm.
“This campaign and the Stop Suicide Pledge aim to get people talking about suicide and to promote the message that it is safe to talk about suicide, because saying something is safer than saying nothing.”
The pledge encourages staff to be open and honest when life get difficult and promises to ensure staff are aware of the support available to them and that colleagues and members of the public are also signposted if they need help or advice.
Andy Ibbs, chair of One Northern Devon and Executive Director of Strategic Development at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “One Northern Devon is all about recognising that we all have a part to play in people’s health and wellbeing and suicide prevention is a great example of this. Preventing suicide is not just a health or mental health issue, but something that requires a whole community approach.
“It is fantastic that we’ve been able to come together in developing a joint plan which outlines how we will deliver the Devon Suicide Prevention Strategy locally. The first step in this is for the One Northern Devon organisations to sign the pledge, but this campaign is about taking this wider – we want employers, education providers, community organisations and individuals to sign the pledge and get the message out that it is safe to talk about suicide.”
In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, 6000 people die by suicide each year, which means 18 people are taking their lives every day.
Paul Keedwell, Director of Nursing and Practice said: “Evidence tells us that talking about any aspect of our mental health and emotional wellbeing, including having thoughts about suicide, is a positive step. Most people who take their own lives have never been in contact with mental health services and this initiative strives to make suicide everyone’s business – we are proud to be associated with it.”
You can find the pledge on the Devon and Torbay Suicide Prevention Alliance website.
Pictured above are representatives from Devon and Torbay Suicide Prevention Alliance and organisations that make up One Northern Devon, a partnership between the public, community and voluntary sector.