Agenda item

Herefordshire Suicide Prevention Strategy

To approve a Suicide Prevention Strategy for Herefordshire 2019 – 2023.


The cabinet member health and adult wellbeing introduced the report, supported by the head of strategic housing and wellbeing commissioning and the Senior Commissioning Officer.


Key points of the strategy were noted as follows:

·        The strategy had been produced and would be delivered with a number of partner agencies with all being responsible for monitoring progress;

·        The strategy covered all age groups and was prompted by the national strategy but with a focus on Herefordshire’s population profile and priorities;

·        There were multiple risk factors identified in suicides with three key groups being middle aged and younger men, users of mental health services and individuals with a history of self-harm;

·        Communities had an important role in the delivery of the strategy in Herefordshire and there were a number of proposals related to this;

·        Social media could have a negative impact and posed a risk in some instances but there was increasing evidence that it could also be protective and have beneficial aspects, use of a range of media would be important in delivering the strategy.


In discussion of the item it was stated that:

·        Talk Communities was a new initiative of the council guiding its approach to engagement with communities, Talk Community hubs would be led and organised by local volunteers and community groups with support from the council, it was hoped that 50 hubs would be in place by 2021;

·        The communications team would be involved in development the action plan and identifying the best media to use to target particular population groups;

·        There was not a large amount of direct data or analysis of links between criminal exploitation and suicide, however the risks arising from child sexual exploitation were a known factor and work was already taking place with partners on this;

·        Recent research had not particularly identified debt as a risk factor although it was recognised that financial worries generally were a source of anxiety and could lead to mental health difficulties;

·        There was a formal process for monitoring deaths from substance misuse and these were recorded separately from suicides, there were some commonalities including the involvement of the coroner in both cases;

·        Discussions were underway with the coroner’s office and public health to improve access to usable data on suicides as there was often a time lapse between the event and the data being available, it was hoped to establish a regular form of audit as this was a proven way to improve understanding;

·        The WISH (Wellbeing Information and Signposting for Herefordshire) service was looking to develop key words search to direct people to relevant sources of information;

·        The farming and wider agricultural community were a high risk group in Herefordshire, a key focus would be to establish how to reach those more vulnerable communities and the council would be looking to tap into existing networks and the communities themselves;

·        It was seen as important to build resilience in individuals, families and communities;

·        The advice for anyone concerned about someone who may be a suicide risk was to talk about it openly, as this was known to have a protective element, and to seek help from someone with appropriate training e.g. a mental health first aider, the Samaritans;

·        There were also specialist networks who could provide support, such as the Farming Community Network, Borderlands and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).


Group leaders were invited to present the views of their group. It was noted that:

·        The strategy was welcomed but it was important that it was followed through with action;

·        There was a need to be proactive and more information was needed for members of the community who might be concerned about family members or  friends;

·        The local patterns broadly reflected national figures although the numbers in the construction industry were higher in Herefordshire than nationally and the reasons for this were not yet fully understood.


It was agreed that:


(a)         The Herefordshire suicide prevention strategy 2019-2023 at appendix 1 be approved.


Supporting documents: