NHS England and Public Health England have awarded £667,000 for suicide prevention work across Kent and Medway.
The investment from the Department for Health and Social Care, Public Health England, and NHS England, marks the start of a three year programme worth £25 million that will reach the whole country by 2021.
It forms part of the government’s bid to reduce England’s overall suicide rate by 10 per cent by 2021.
The money has been awarded to the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, which is a collaboration between Kent County Council, Medway Council, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) and all the NHS organisations across Kent and Medway.
The number of suicides across Kent and Medway fell slightly in 2017 to 141 (from 167 in 2016). Between 2013 and 2015 there were 44 recorded suicides in Thanet.
‘Pull out all the stops’
Glenn Douglas, Chief Executive of Kent and Medway’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, said: “People taking their own lives is a big issue for the health and wellbeing of our whole population. The extra money this year will help all of us to pull out all the stops to prevent deaths by suicide. I will make sure that the STP works tirelessly to help people look after their minds and for services or support to reach people in good time.”
The funding will be spent on initiatives including;
- extending the Kent County Council ‘Release the Pressure’ campaign so that more people become aware of the 24/7 freephone support line for any issue
- Suicide Awareness and Prevention training so that more people have the confidence and ability to support someone they are concerned about
- research into the reasons why people attempt suicide so that opportunities to intervene and help can be identified
- strengthening mental health services at high risk points so help is available when people need it most.
Release the Pressure
Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health, Peter Oakford said: “This new funding is very welcome and we are pleased that the work we have been leading on so far, including the Release the Pressure campaign, has been recognised on a national scale.
“As we have seen recently in the Coronation Street plotline and the subsequent national discussion around a male character’s death, men are less likely to ask for help from friends, family or mental health services than women.
“Just as important as the funding, is the collective will and the joint working between organisations to reduce suicide numbers across Kent and Medway. The funding will help us continue to encourage anyone who is feeling the pressure at the moment to talk to someone.”
All the different elements of the funding will be delivered by a network of organisations and will be overseen by the Kent and Medway Multi-Agency Suicide Prevention Steering Group.
The funding will include targeted prevention campaigns for men; psychological support for people with financial difficulties; better care after discharge; and improved self-harm services for all ages.
The funds are set to improve suicide prevention strategies, raising awareness, improving quality for safer services and better collection of data on suicide, attempted suicide and self-harm.
Support is available from trained and experienced staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through the Release the Pressure support line Freephone 0800 107 0160.
The campaign website www.releasethepressure.uk also includes case studies from men in Kent who have turned their lives around after attempting suicide.