On 10 September 2012 (World Suicide Prevention Day), the DH published a new cross Government strategy for preventing suicide in England. The strategy is informed by the results of the consultation undertaken last year (reported in our August 2011 Health Legal Update), and should be read alongside the implementation framework for the Mental Health Strategy, No health without mental health, published in July 2012.

In its introduction, the suicide prevention strategy notes that while the number of people in England who take their own lives has reduced in recent years, there were still over 4,200 suicides in 2010. Statistically, people in the age bracket 35–49 have the highest suicide rate and males are three times more likely to take their own lives compared to females.

The strategy sets out two objectives: firstly, to reduce the suicide rate across the general population and secondly, to provide better support for the bereaved or those affected by suicide.

To meet the objectives the strategy identifies six key areas for action:

  1. Reduce the risk of suicide in key high risk groups
  2. Tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups
  3. Reduce access to the means of suicide
  4. Provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide
  5. Support the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour
  6. Support research, data collection and monitoring

The strategy emphasises that much of the planning and work to prevent suicides will be carried out at a local level. The strategy therefore includes examples of good practice and local interventions that commissioners can use or adapt to meet the needs of their local area.