Taskforce to tackle rising North Staffordshire suicide rates
NEW NHS services are being looked at to try to cut suicide rates in North Staffordshire as increasing numbers of people are killing themselves.
Public health experts, senior police officers and social and psychiatric care leaders have set up a taskforce to tackle the deaths.
It will examine how mental health services can be improved to reach more people before they end their own lives.
A public awareness campaign is to be launched to try to support those who do not show typical signs of being at risk.
And frontline staff will be trained in how to spot the danger signs among patients.
The drive comes after almost 50 suicide verdicts were recorded at North Staffordshire's Coroner's Court this year.
That compares with 25 in 2011, 36 in 2010 and 21 in 2009.
The Staffordshire Suicide Prevention Strategy is being led by North Staffordshire's two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) which have the cash to bring in new NHS services.
Early initiatives include:
Identifying people most at risk so they can be given immediate support;
Providing training in suicide awareness to all frontline health and social care staff.
Coroner Ian Smith has already held talks with North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs to shares the findings and trends from his inquests.
He said: "I first gave an alert about the rising number of suicide hearings in the summer and sadly that trend has continued with no signs of abating.
"Middle-aged men seem to be by far the biggest group at risk. But I have had cases of men in their 20s with a partner, house, job and everything to live for committing suicide so the challenge is how to get help to them.
"Some of these figures are mirrored nationally and I have been in contact with the CCGs to see if more can be done by commissioning services."
The taskforce is to hold a workshop early in the New Year.
It will also take evidence from national and regional groups working on suicide awareness and prevention.
Most suicide cases this year have involved men aged between 40 and 60 who had lost their jobs or suffered marriage breakdowns in response to the current economic climate.
CCGs communications manager Tamsin Carr said: "We are aware that many people who attempt or commit suicide are not known to mental health services. They may not be aware of their mental distress and the availability of help and support.
"So it is crucial to raise public awareness of local services and the support that is available from the community and voluntary sector."
Anyone in need of help or advice can talk to the Staffordshire Mental Health Hotline on 0808 8002234, the Samaritans on 08457 909090 or the Dove Service on 01782 683155.