Devon Suicide Prevention Action Plan – progress report

Posted on: 19 July 2021

Councillors on the Health and Wellbeing Board today (Thursday July 15) heard the latest progress report on Devon County Council’s (DCC) Devon Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2021-2022.

The plan has been drawn up in partnership with the police, health and mental health providers, the voluntary and community sectors, Network Rail, Highways England, The Samaritans, the Devon Prisons Service and Exeter University.

Suicide Is a rare event, but when is does occur it can have a devastating impact upon families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and , therefore, suicide prevention and support for those bereaved by suicide is a priority for Public Health.

Councillors heard that while the latest data for 2020 does not show any significant rise in suicides in Devon, the rate has been rising since 2018, in line with the national trend.

And, as a result of the pandemic, there has also been an increase in common mental health problems in the county, often triggered by the loss of a loved one, lockdowns, losing a job or money worries.

In response to this in 2020/2021, 400 people from 60 agencies across Devon have received training in ‘Understanding Grief’, ‘Suicide awareness’ and ‘Suicide Bereavement ’.

Under the previous plan, which was launched in 2018, 2,700 people across Devon were trained in how to recognise the signs, and how to access specialised .

Devon Public Health and Devon Highways worked with a wide partnership to reduce the number of incidents at a location in North Devon from 24 in 2019 to three in 2020.

Additionally, Public Health is working in partnership with Network Rail, The Samaritans, and British Transport Police to reduce the number of deaths on the .

The Suicide Bereavement Service has been commissioned, which will include the Devon STP area of Devon, Plymouth, and Torbay, a further £705,000 (over three years) has also been awarded by NHS England to develop a suicide prevention programme across the area.

This money is being used to support the Devon Action Plan and a range of projects including community initiatives and training non-clinical staff who work with high risk groups and bystanders like taxi-drivers and dog walkers.

Other projects include the production of an interactive map to help identify high frequency locations, and an online hub is being developed which will provide information, resources, and information for bereaved families on where to get support. This is because being bereaved by suicide can increase the risk of a person ending their own life.

Councillor James McInnes, Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board and

Photo of Councillor James McInnes

Councillor James McInnes

Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Health Services, said:

“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business. Whilst we have the responsibility to produce and deliver an annual action plan, we need to do this in partnership with colleagues in the health and voluntary sectors, emergency services and with communities.

“We need to combine our efforts to ensure the right support is in place.”

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