A multi-agency partnership between the council, NHS and voluntary organisations has produced a plan which sets out a clear ambition for ‘no more suicides’ in Bolton.
The Bolton Suicide Prevention Partnership is led by representatives from Bolton Council, NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Greater Manchester Mental Health (GMMH) NHS Foundation Trust and the voluntary sector, and works closely with organisations such as schools, housing associations, faith leaders, and the police, fire service and other emergency services.
Together they have agreed that every suicide represents a tragedy for people’s families, friends, neighbours and colleagues and that every suicide has the potential to be prevented.
As a result, the partnership has made a collective commitment to do all they can to work towards achieving no more suicides in Bolton.
They have produced a suicide prevention strategy which sets out the action they will take to achieve their goal.
The strategy is recommended for formal approval by the Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, on Monday, October 9 and by Bolton’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Friday, October 20.
It will be launched to the public and interested partners on World Mental Health Day (October 10) at the University of Bolton.
Bolton’s suicide rate has recently fallen in recent years and, on average, there are around 26 incidences a year.
The majority occur among white males, and the average age over the past 12 months was 42 years.
Twice as many suicides occur in the most deprived areas and there are a range of risk factors associated with suicide, including a history of mental health problems; a history of self-harm; living alone; a history of violence; alcohol and drug misuse; and being unemployed.
The strategy acknowledges the local data and in response, contains a number of key priorities to: identify high risk groups and implement action to reduce risk; identify and support people who may become vulnerable due to specific life events; improve mental health support; and develop suicide prevention training for frontline workers who come into contact with those at risk.
In addition, the strategy highlights the need to work with the media to encourage sensitive reporting of suicide and to improve the way organisations share information.
Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board and Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, said: “It may seem ambitious that our aim is for no more suicides in Bolton, but we are truly committed to work together to achieve this.
“We are not saying we can achieve this in a certain number of years but from this day forward, we will do everything we can to help people change their opinion that suicide is an option.
“Every life lost to suicide represents a personal tragedy and we believe that, with the correct support in place, early identification of risk factors and a strong partnership approach, there is the potential to prevent this from happening.
“Suicide has a devastating effect on families, friends, colleagues and people who work in certain services. It is in everyone’s interest to try and reduce the number of suicides in Bolton, and it feels natural to want to see an end to this tragic loss of life altogether.”
The partnership intends to develop a public campaign to raise awareness of the need to reduce suicide and will closely monitor progress of the strategy.