suicidedayMental health charity Hull & East Yorkshire Mind and London Probation Trust (LPT) are among those seeking to raise awareness of the high rates of suicide, attempted suicide and near-lethal self-harm in their communities on World Suicide Prevention Day.

Greg Aitken (pictured), CEO of Hull and East Yorkshire Mind, believes that suicidal talk or behaviour is a cry for help that should not be ignored and that today's [10 September] annual event will encourage people to seek help.

“Battling a mental health issue can be incredibly difficult and a lot of people just can’t see an end to their recovery,” said Greg.

“Nobody should feel that ending their life is the only option. Help, support and treatment is available for a whole host of mental health issues – we just need to make everyone aware of what is out there.”

According to recent research, suicides in England and Wales are at their highest level since 2004 – with more than 6,000 people taking their own lives in 2011.

In a bid to counter this, the Government last year pledged to put a further £1.5 million towards research into suicide prevention among high-risk groups.

Higher suicide risk among offenders
Further research by the International Journal of Forensic Mental Health shows that offenders currently serving community sentences and ex-offenders are twice as likely to attempt suicide or near-lethal self-harm compared with the general population.

Those on probation supervision within the community are also more likely to attempt suicide than offenders serving their sentences in prison.

LPT is currently working to assist in suicide prevention through a safeguarding adults portfolio by:
• Establishing a multi-disciplinary suicide prevention forum to identify and explore issues and drive operational policy with the aim of preventing and reducing suicide among offenders
• Implementing a Suicide Prevention Action Plan underpinning its suicide research, policy and operations
• Offering a 2-day training event on Suicide Prevention and Intentional Self-Injury Awareness to all offender managers and for staff in approved premises (bail hostels) across London
• Creating an intranet page on suicide prevention to aid staff in working with service users at risk of suicide
• Promoting and distributing Samaritans literature to all Trust and approved premises
• Publicising awareness days such as World Suicide Prevention Day among staff and service users
• Supporting internal/external research in order to inform future suicide prevention work
• Giving staff access to an employee assistance programme to support their needs.

In a separate study, Westminster University researchers are collaborating with LPT staff to look at all records of reported suicides and possible suicides by LPT clients that have occurred over the past 3 years. This aims to establish factors leading up to a suicide or suicide attempt and identify any learning points in order to better understand the experiences of offenders.