Published Friday 11 March 2016 at 10:08
A new strategy to reduce the number of suicides in Blackburn with Darwen has been developed and will be launched soon.
The local suicide prevention strategy is the culmination of several years of sustained work between Blackburn with Darwen Council and partners to prioritise mental health and wellbeing, during which time local suicide rates have reduced.
Between 2011 and 2013, 12 out of every 100,000 deaths among both sexes were down to suicide. This was higher than the regional average of 10.1 per 100,000. However between 2012-14 this had dropped to 10.0 per 100,000, similar to the regional average of 10.3 per 100,000.
The new strategy has been developed with the help of a wide-range of partners and stakeholders such as Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Constabulary, Lancashire MIND, Age UK, Women’s Centre amongst others.
It will seek to build on the improving suicide rates by encouraging more joined-up working and sharing of resources and expertise.
Actions within the strategy include the development of early intervention tools so that people at risk of suicide and self-harm are identified early and programmes to help improve mental health and wellbeing are implemented in advance of situations escalating.
It will aim to work across all age groups to prevent mental ill-health and promote wellbeing from an early age and further promote the nationally-recognised ‘five ways to wellbeing’ (be active, take notice, keep learning, connect, give.)
The number of trained suicide first-aiders will be increased as a result of the strategy and the work of the borough’s newly appointed mental health champion Councillor Brian Taylor, also Assistant Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, will continue to be promoted.
The local Wellbeing Service will be as crucial as ever to signposting local residents to support on a range of issues and an online resource – Big White Wall – which provides 24/7 peer and professional support will continue to be promoted to residents across the borough.
Councillor Mustafa Desai, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:
Any suicide or loss of life is tragic and the impact it can have on families and friends is devastating. We have worked hard to prioritise mental health and wellbeing and suicide rates have reduced overall but there is always more to do. Our new strategy with its action plan will ensure we continue to promote recovery and quality of life through effective, innovative and caring services.
Councillor Taylor added:
The Council is here to help signpost people to receive the help they need in combating issues such as depression and anxiety all throughout the year and this new strategy will further enforce this. As part of my new role I will be working to break down the stigma attached to mental health, tackling discrimination and increasing awareness. I will also be out in the community listening to our residents about what they need for better mental and emotional health.