The Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) has welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to provide £2 million over the next two years to help their efforts to improve suicide prevention in the UK.
The Prime Minister announced the funding during her World Mental Health Day speech yesterday, which is designed to improve suicide awareness and training and the development of an innovative digital suicide prevention resource and exploration of cutting edge analytics to predict risk.
Launched last year in the Houses of Parliament, the ZSA is a coalition of almost 100 NHS and other organisations. It is run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust from Liverpool, the first mental health trust in the country to publicly commit to a zero suicide policy, alongside expert partners Steve Mallen, founder of the MindEd charity, and Geraldine Strathdee, the former National Mental Health lead at NHS England.
Joe Rafferty, Mersey Care’s Chief Executive and one of the founder members of the ZSA, said: “As a self-formed partnership between mental health providers and their partners, the ZSA has already made significant national progress on a voluntary basis. With the funding announced by the Secretary of State, this positive collaboration will now go from strength to strength.
“This announcement of Government backing for the ZSA is fantastic news for every person who has ever struggled with suicidal thoughts and everyone left behind by someone who has taken their own life. The ZSA believe just one life lost is one too many.
“The ZSA is already acting as a catalyst and focal point for a broad range of suicide prevention activity across the widest possible group of mutually supportive NHS and partner organisations in this country. As part of this work, the Alliance training, which we developed here at Mersey Care, has now been taken by thousands of people with each one of them now becoming equipped to engage with those at risk.
“Moving forward, this funding will enable us to broaden our reach to include a range of options to ensure that NHS response to suicide is the very best it can be wherever you are when the need arises.”
The ZSA teamed up with Relias UK, one of the leading training providers in the country, last year to provide a free, online training tool, which uses clinical expertise and experience from those with lived experience of suicide.
It takes only 20 minutes to complete the course and gives everyone the skills to approach difficult conversations with those who may be struggling and help signpost them to accessing services. The training can be accessed here.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “Every suicide is a preventable death and there’s so much more we can do to reduce the number of people lost to it. The Zero Suicide Alliance’s new training and awareness tools will help health and care staff recognise the signs and step in before it’s too late, as well ensuring openness and transparency when suicides do occur.
“This funding is a vital step forward to help further reduce inpatient suicide and underlines our commitment to bring down the number of suicides everywhere.”