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Suicide Prevention

‘Suicide Prevention’ is a commitment we’ve made as a Trust, and which is the first of its kind in the country, to bring the suicide rate amongst our patients down to zero.

Why is actively promoting Suicide Prevention important?

Actively promoting Suicide Prevention is important because we want to develop a culture within our organisation that does not pride itself on meeting objectives set down by regulatory bodies or commissioners. Instead, as a Trust we strongly believe that we should aim higher and set more exacting standards that resonated with staff, patients and carers alike.

Especially when it comes to talking about peoples lives, we refuse to believe that it’s acceptable to say that anything less than zero deaths by suicide amongst our patients (each year), is a respectable ‘target’.

So what is Suicide Prevention?

From our perspective, Suicide Prevention is all about creating the best environment to eliminate suicide for all those in our care. It’s an initiative that was inspired by a health centre in Detroit, Michigan, which has reported not losing a single patient to suicide in two-and-a-half years. In 2015, the centre saw 74,000 patients.

How is Suicide Prevention being fostered?

From a psychological point of view we are wired to look at the negative when it comes to the way we think. So we’ll tend to ask, “What’s the problem and how do we fix it?” as opposed to “What’s working and how can we do more of it?”.

This is an important observation to make, especially when it comes to fostering a Suicide Prevention culture because one of the first steps to work toward this is to learn from our own “Bright Spots” and what is working within our organisations.

In our Trust, for example, we were aware that there was a number of key time periods and, or situations, where people were at risk of suicide. Such as during the high risk period after discharge from inpatient care and it was these areas that became our initial focus.

So what’s been implemented as part of the Suicide Prevention initiative?

In line with the Henry Ford Hospital system whose model we are emulating and from highlighting our own ‘Bright Spots’, we have made a number of changes to our services. Such as implementing new measures, from making it mandatory for all members of staff within our Trust to undertake suicide prevention training courses, to creating personalised safety plans for every service-user with a history of intent or self-harm.

As a standard we have specialised teams who continually monitor the highest risk people. But we now also offer patients who have self-harm injuries, therapies on the spot at A&E and follow up with them when they go home. We are also developing a suicide prevention mobile phone app with Stanford University, which we hope to trial in 2017, which will provide round-the-clock support.

In addition to the above measures, we now aim to complete post-suicide reviews within two weeks, so we can learn from the circumstances surrounding a death quickly so that we can (if necessary) instigate change to better ourselves and the way in which we work as a Trust.

To find out more about our ‘Suicide Prevention’ initiative and how you can get involved or how we can help your organisation, please contact us at

Why is actively promoting Suicide Prevention important?

Actively promoting Suicide Prevention is important because we want to develop a culture within our organisation that does not pride itself on meeting objectives set down by regulatory bodies or commissioners. Instead, as a Trust we strongly believe that we should aim higher and set more exacting standards that resonated with staff, patients and carers alike.

Especially when it comes to talking about peoples lives, we refuse to believe that it’s acceptable to say that anything less than zero deaths by suicide amongst our patients (each year), is a respectable ‘target’.

So what is Suicide Prevention?

From our perspective, Suicide Prevention is all about creating the best environment to eliminate suicide for all those in our care. It’s an initiative that was inspired by a health centre in Detroit, Michigan, which has reported not losing a single patient to suicide in two-and-a-half years. In 2015, the centre saw 74,000 patients.

How is Suicide Prevention being fostered?

From a psychological point of view we are wired to look at the negative when it comes to the way we think. So we’ll tend to ask, “What’s the problem and how do we fix it?” as opposed to “What’s working and how can we do more of it?”.

This is an important observation to make, especially when it comes to fostering a Suicide Prevention culture because one of the first steps to work toward this is to learn from our own “Bright Spots” and what is working within our organisations.

In our Trust, for example, we were aware that there was a number of key time periods and, or situations, where people were at risk of suicide. Such as during the high risk period after discharge from inpatient care and it was these areas that became our initial focus.

So what’s been implemented as part of the Suicide Prevention initiative?

In line with the Henry Ford Hospital system whose model we are emulating and from highlighting our own ‘Bright Spots’, we have made a number of changes to our services. Such as implementing new measures, from making it mandatory for all members of staff within our Trust to undertake suicide prevention training courses, to creating personalised safety plans for every service-user with a history of intent or self-harm.

As a standard we have specialised teams who continually monitor the highest risk people. But we now also offer patients who have self-harm injuries, therapies on the spot at A&E and follow up with them when they go home. We are also developing a suicide prevention mobile phone app with Stanford University, which we hope to trial in 2017, which will provide round-the-clock support.

In addition to the above measures, we now aim to complete post-suicide reviews within two weeks, so we can learn from the circumstances surrounding a death quickly so that we can (if necessary) instigate change to better ourselves and the way in which we work as a Trust.

What do our Staff say?

Recently one of our staff members had a close friend who was bereaved by suicide and found themselves in a position were they had to provide ongoing help and support to the bereaved. A task, which they said at the beginning felt very overwhelming and left them feeling like they were out of their depth.

However, by being a part of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust team, they felt they were in a position where they were able to access people and services that might not be generally available to them otherwise.

The Trust Suicide Prevention Lead, Jane Boland was able to provide the staff member with advice, which enabled them to effectively comfort and support their friend both practically as well as emotionally. Whilst additionally, Jane was able to talk them through what they'd learnt during Mandatory Suicide Prevention training, which supported their situation.

Zero Suicide is a big part of the Trusts commitment to delivering perfect care to service users, carers and their families. However, this advice and support is also available directly for staff to access internally should they wish to do so, adding an extra layer of care, which has already proven to be instrumental for a number of our staff within the Trust.

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Aiming for Perfection: The Zero Suicide Movement

To find out more about our ‘Suicide Prevention’ initiative and how you can get involved or how we can help your organisation, please contact us at PerfectCare@merseycare.nhs.uk