This Suicide Prevention Day (10 September), organisations in Coventry and Warwickshire want to raise awareness of the local and national services and support available, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic which has impacted the mental health of so many.
Three years ago, with rates of suicide increasing in our area, Coventry and Warwickshire Health and Care Partnership (HCP) found itself in the unique position of being able to make a difference to those in crisis or who were considering taking their own life.
Successfully securing suicide prevention funding from NHS England and Public Health England in May 2018, a three-year programme of work began including a focus on middle-aged men whose rates of suicide had been increasing. The programme, led by a multi-agency group, included suicide prevention leads from health, social care, primary care, and voluntary and community sector organisations.
An event highlighting the projects that came out of this funding and looking at ways in which partners can work together to reduce suicides in the area, was held earlier this week.
Dr Sharon Binyon, Medical Director at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “Three years on from the start of our suicide prevention programme, we were keen to share the positive strides we have made and explore ways in which we can continue to work together to prevent suicides and improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our local population.
“We’re proud of some of the projects which have been established, including the suicide prevention website www.dearlife.org.uk, Safe Havens, evidence-based mental health awareness and suicide prevention training for non-mental health professionals, and groups for those whose mental health has been impacted by drug and alcohol addiction, to name but a few.
“World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity for local communities, including the NHS and Local Authorities, to come together to raise awareness of suicide, the support that is out there, and to encourage people to seek help when they need it.”
Coventry City Councillor Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Sport, said: “We have been working with our partners to raise awareness, address the stigma, and reduce the rates of suicide in Coventry. Unfortunately, mental health is not talked about enough and this World Suicide Prevention Day can hopefully help to change that.
“The Dear Life website is a fantastic way to help everyone in our city to feel they have somewhere to go for advice at a time they or someone close to them is struggling. It is of utmost importance that no-one feels alone, and we would encourage everyone in our community to explore the website and share with anyone that could benefit from support.”
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day and to raise awareness of the local services and support available around mental health, a stand will be near the Ropewalk Shopping Centre in Nuneaton between 1pm and 3pm on Friday 10th September. Anyone can pop along and have a chat with one of the representatives from local support organisations.
Despite the three-year suicide prevention programme coming to an end, suicide prevention and mental health is still an ongoing priority for partners and support is still available and continuing to be developed for people in the area.
A new, free service jointly funded by Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council, called Amparo, has just been launched across Coventry and Warwickshire, providing support to those who have been bereaved or affected by suicide. Amparo can support anyone who has been affected, whether this is family members, friends, ‘finders’, work colleagues and anyone else affected by a suicide, and can be accessed by calling 0330 088 9255, by emailing email@example.com or through an online referral form available at https://amparo.org.uk/refer/.
Warwickshire County Councillor Margaret Bell, portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “Every death by suicide is a tragedy and impacts families, friends and the wider community. Our support for World Suicide Prevention Day is a part of the council’s ongoing commitment to working with our partners to reducing the numbers of people who die by suicide in our communities and providing better support for those dealing with bereavement by suicide.
“It’s a really positive step that we are now able to further expand the support available to those bereaved by suicide by offering this free and confidential service from Amparo across Coventry and Warwickshire. Losing someone as a result of suicide can impact the bereaved in so many ways and having access to both emotional and practical support to get through this very difficult time is vital.
“We hope that this new service, along with the Dear Life website, will be able to provide residents with the support and advice they need, on a topic that can still be very difficult for some to approach. You’re not alone, there is help out there and we would encourage anyone struggling or in need of advice to reach out and use the support available to them.”
We can also all follow some simple guidelines as part of Wellbeing for Life to encourage good mental health. By paying close attention to our environment and how we feel, it can be easier to manage the things that threaten to overwhelm us. There are five steps that individuals and communities can take to improve mental health and wellbeing and build kindness into daily life; these are the 5 Ways to Wellbeing which include connect, keep learning, be active, give and take notice.
For information about a range of mental health and wellbeing services, including face to face, telephone, online and self-help resources available in Coventry and Warwickshire, please visit: warwickshire.gov.uk/mentalhealth, coventry.gov.uk/mentalhealth or covwarkpt.nhs.uk