News story

New resource to prevent linked suicides in local areas

Publication coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day.

Public Health England (PHE) has published a new resource to assist local organisations prevent linked suicides in their areas, often referred to as ‘suicide clusters’.

The Identifying and responding to suicide clusters resource supports local authorities in their reaction to unexpectedly high numbers of suicides occurring in a particular period of time, a particular place, or both. The resource highlights how imperative it is that plans for such events are in place before they occur to ensure an effective response.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing, said:

Suicide clusters understandably cause great concern and may lead to hasty responses. No single agency is likely to have the resources or experience to manage these events on their own and this resource aims to support local bodies in working together so they can analyse any situation quickly and prepare a coherent, measured and co-ordinated response.

Professor Louis Appleby, Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group said:

Clusters of suicides may occur in communities, groups of friends or institutions. The people affected may live near each other, attend the same college or be connected through social media. Young people are particularly susceptible.

This resource aims to help local agencies to prepare, to prevent one tragic death leading to another.

Suicide prevention was one of the public health responsibilities transferred to local authorities in April 2013. PHE plays a key role providing best practice guides and support to local organisations to fulfil the national suicide prevention strategy.

PHE’s existing work in this area includes guidance to create a suicide prevention action plan and suicide data profiles on the Mental Health Intelligence Network to help local authorities understand suicide rates and related factors in their areas. Further resources for local authorities are currently under development.

World Suicide Prevention Day is held each year on 10 September. It’s an annual awareness raising event organised by International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).