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Men to get extra care as mental health trust announces measures to reduce suicides across Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 14:48 21 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:54 21 February 2017

Extra help for men and training staff to recognise people at risk of suicide are among a raft of new measures which are set to be rolled out in a bid to reduce the number of people killing themselves. Picture posed by models. Picture: Time to change/Newscast Online

Extra help for men and training staff to recognise people at risk of suicide are among a raft of new measures which are set to be rolled out in a bid to reduce the number of people killing themselves. Picture posed by models. Picture: Time to change/Newscast Online

Time to change/Newscast Online

Improving treatment for men and teaching medics to identify people at chronic risk of suicide are among steps set to be rolled out to reduce the number of people who kill themselves.

Ian Carter, who died by suicide, with his sister Naomi Carter, who says plans to reduce suicides must be tangible - not vague. Picture submitted by Naomi CarterIan Carter, who died by suicide, with his sister Naomi Carter, who says plans to reduce suicides must be tangible - not vague. Picture submitted by Naomi Carter

An average of 77 people die by suicide in Norfolk each year (62 in Suffolk), and the region’s mental health trust has set out five priorities which it hopes will bring those numbers down.

The priorities include:

- Focusing on the safety of clinical pathways.

- Giving staff up-to-date skills.

- Working with other agencies such as the police and social services.

It is hoped this will reduce the number of suicides by 10pc by 2021 - a national target.

More details will be discussed at a public meeting of the board of directors at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) in Ipswich on Thursday.

Dr Jane Sayer, director of nursing, quality and safety with NSFT, said: “Suicide has a devastating impact on families and communities, but it remains something we have a limited understanding of and struggle to talk about openly.

“That is why this strategy is so important – it commits our trust to do all that we can to avoid the loss of life to suicide and forms an essential part of our ambition to constantly improve the quality of everything we do.”

Naomi Carter, whose brother died by suicide, says more mental health staff are needed to help people at risk of killing themselves. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNaomi Carter, whose brother died by suicide, says more mental health staff are needed to help people at risk of killing themselves. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Among the practical measures outlined in the strategy are to “increase the availability of male-specific interventions within the community”, and to “provide staff with the skills and knowledge to support those with a chronic risk of suicide”.

Dr Sayer added: “Importantly, our strategy addresses the fact that suicide is not just about mental health services, it is something which affects communities and every individual or organisation within those communities.

“If we don’t all work together to prevent and make ourselves aware of the risk of suicide and mental health issues, then we will miss the opportunity to prevent deaths that might be avoidable.”

A third of all people who die by suicide are aged between 45 and 59, according to information from Public Health England.

‘Plans must be tangible - not vague’

The sister of a 35-year old man who killed himself said more staff and better access to clinical specialists is needed to reduce the number of suicides.

Naomi Carter, 24, of Thorpe, lost her brother Ian Carter after he died in September 2011. He had suffered from depression since his early 20s.

Miss Carter said while raising awareness and talking about suicide was positive, any such strategy should have “clear and tangible” plans to tackle the problem.

“They need to increase the number of specialists and also improve access to those crucial one-to-one services,” Miss Carter said.

“There also needs to be a recognition that just because someone is getting treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy and is seemingly doing OK - that doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk of suicide.

“It’s great that the trust is trying to stop suicides, but the aims must be tangible - not vague.”

Have you been affected by suicide and would like to share your story?

Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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