Wolverhampton’s Suicide Prevention Stakeholder Forum is working hard to raise awareness of suicide prevention and the importance of good mental health and wellbeing, to open up a dialogue around this complex issue and to support people at their time of greatest need – and it is helping bring about a reduction in the number of suicides in the city.
While nationally, the number of people dying by suicide sadly increased by around 12% between 2017 and 2018, in the same period the number of suicides in Wolverhampton reduced by 40%, from 25 in 2017 to 15 in 2018.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "While one suicide is still one too many, it is clearly good news that suicide rates in Wolverhampton are reducing.
“But we are not complacent, and the council and partner organisations across Wolverhampton will continue to work together to do all we can to improve the mental health and wellbeing of our residents.
“The message is clear; if you or someone you know is in a dark place, don’t suffer in silence – help and support is out there.”
Both nationally and locally, the majority of suicides were men, while the most common age group for suicides was between 45 and 49 among both men and women.
Wolverhampton’s Suicide Prevention Stakeholder Forum, a group of organisations which recognise suicide is preventable and want to make a difference, held a special event on World Suicide Prevention Day last week (Tuesday 10 September) to showcase the work taking place in the city.
Forum chair Clare Dickens said: “The Suicide Prevention Stakeholder Forum has always embraced and worked from a baseline principle that one life saved from suicide is valuable; the ripple effect of one loss is huge.
“Therefore, while we reflect on the possible devastation and lessons to be learnt surrounding those who have lost their life, and always embrace an ambition of zero, the reduction in reported rates of suicide in Wolverhampton is encouraging.
“It further highlights the need for the Forum to continue to build on the work that is being done to highlight awareness of need and to offer help that recognises the varying determinants of distress triggers and experiences of those in such pain, and do all we can to reduce the barriers to receiving help.”
Dr Helen Hibbs, Chief Officer for Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “It is important for the community as whole, including the NHS, council, education and the community and voluntary sectors, to work together to prevent suicide. Whilst not all of those who tragically take their life by suicide are known to mental health services, many will come into contact with some form of health service.
“We know that some will see their GP in the months before taking their life by suicide, while others may interact with community-based mental health services; these are important stages where as a whole community we can intervene by taking a compassionate and caring approach. We must remember suicide is preventable and the overwhelming suicidal thoughts one may experience can pass by accessing the right support.”
Samaritans’ Wolverhampton provides confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide. However, many of its calls are not about suicide, but from people who feel upset or confused and want to talk to someone.
If you are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, but do not feel ready to speak to someone, you can view the resources offered at Staying safe and consider developing your own safety plan.
Wolverhampton Healthy Minds, the psychological therapies service for people experiencing common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and stress, can be contacted on 0800 923 0222 or 01902 441856 or by visiting Wolverhampton Healthy Minds.
HeadStart Wolverhampton, designed to improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of 10 to 16 year olds, offers a range of free resources to young people via the Support and Guidance pages on its website. There are also free resources for parents and professionals, designed to support them in broaching the subject with young people.
For details of the support available from Wolverhampton Social Hub, the mental health preventative service delivered by Starfish Health and Wellbeing, visit Wolverhampton Social Hub.