To receive a report on Suicide Prevention in North Tyneside, including the impact of Covid on suicide rates and the suicide prevention strategy.
The Sub-Committee considered a report and presentation on the key findings of the 2021 North Tyneside Suicide Needs Assessment and ongoing suicide prevention work and action plan.
The Key findings from the 2021 North Tyneside Suicide Needs Assessment included the following:
- There had been a significant increase in suicide nationally since 2017
- North Tyneside’s current suicide rate was similar to the England rate and similar to the rate of the other 11 North East local authority areas
- Early analysis of national real-time suicide surveillance (RTSS) and monitoring of local RTSS indicated that there has been no evidence of a large rise in suicides due to COVID
- Male suicides accounted for approximately 75% of all suicides both nationally and in North Tyneside
- Suicides peak in middle-age nationally and in North Tyneside
- ‘Hanging, strangulation, and suffocation’ was the most common method of suicide in both males and females, followed by poisoning nationally and in North Tyneside
The refreshed Suicide Prevention Action Plan for North Tyneside had been developed using national suicide prevention policy and guidance, tailoring this to the needs of the borough identified by the 2021 Suicide Health Needs Assessment. The key driver of suicide prevention work in England was the National Suicide Prevention Strategy published in September 2012 by the Department of Health. The strategy outlined two main objectives:
1. to reduce the suicide rate in the general population in England; and
2. to provide better support for those bereaved or affected by suicide.
This strategy also outlined seven key areas for action for suicide prevention work:
1. Reduce the risk of suicide in key high-risk groups
2. Tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups
3. Reduce access to the means of suicide
4. Provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide
5. Support the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour
6. Support research, data collection and monitoring
7. Reduce rates of self-harm as a key indicator of suicide risk
The refreshed Suicide Prevention Action Plan provided an outline of the wide range of suicide prevention activities being undertaken by the multi-agency Suicide Prevention Task Group.
Progress on the key actions from the previous 2020-2021 action plan included:
- An updated Suicide Health Needs Assessment that considers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide in the borough
- Continual monitoring of real-time suicide surveillance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and onwards.
- The roll-out of a range of suicide prevention training courses through Tyneside and Northumberland MIND to over 100 frontline workers across the system who support a range of vulnerable groups across our communities.
- Awareness raising and outreach to encourage residents of North Tyneside to reach out to those around them and offer an ear to those who may be struggling during mental health awareness week and World Suicide Prevention day.
- COVID-19 Grassroots Grants for VODA ‘Little boxes of hope’ and Helix arts grants
- Ongoing engagement with regional suicide prevention work through the North
Integrated Care Pathway and the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System
The Sub-Committee discussed the issues raised in the presentation and in the course of discussion raised the following points:
- Men were one of the key groups at highest risk of suicide and were less likely to ask for help in relation to their health and local suicide prevention activity and outreach work was reaching out to men such as work undertaken by the Cedar Wood Trust. There was promotion of the regional work around targeting men through football and the ‘Be a Game Changer’ Campaign by Newcastle United Foundation encouraged people to talk openly about mental health and Sunderland’s Foundation of Light had designed a programme just for men on weight management.
- A workstream in the North Tyneside Children and Young People’s Plan would use peer support to break down barriers and trained teams would enable adolescent boys in North Tyneside to talk about their feelings and mental health.
- Reference was made to the length of time to obtain a referral to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and it was highlighted that health services were under pressure.
- Men who were economically vulnerable were at a high risk of suicide and men with serious mental health issues who have had their benefits stopped were extremely isolated.
- It was explained that another stream of work focussed on drug related deaths and deaths from poisoning might well be linked to drug related deaths
- A question was raised about targeted support for people and families affected by suicide and it was noted that families were signposted to the suicide bereavement service If U Care Share.co.uk and Help is at Hand.
- The importance of self harm being picked up as a trigger was an important part of mental health training
- Local Authority officers had begun a pilot project to achieve an ambition to train all staff and pupils from North Tyneside schools in mental health awareness, with two staff trained as mental health first aiders from each school and this project was welcomed by the Committee.
- At a regional level, the North Integrated Care Pathways (ICP) suicide prevention co-ordinator post had been filled and was hosted by Northumbria Police and brought together all six local authorities, crisis teams and charities with the aim of providing help to those most in need and offered and arranged post intervention support to those affected by suicide. Members hoped that this post would continue to be funded
- In 2020/2021 suicide awareness training had been delivered by the North Tyneside Public Health Team and Tyneside and Northumberland Mind to a wide range of stakeholder staff groups across North Tyneside and was promoted widely.
- Outreach work had been undertaken in work-based settings to encourage help seeking behaviour in men in the borough through the Better Health at Work Programme.
The Chair thanked Laura Keast, the Public Health Speciality Registrar for the informative presentation.
It was agreed that the Sub-Committee note the:
- key findings from the 2021 North Tyneside Suicide Needs Assessment.
- initial findings on the impact of COVID-19 on suicide rates; and
- priorities for suicide prevention activity as outlined in the refreshed Suicide Prevention Action Plan.