Conference to Shed Light on the Taboo of Suicide

This press release was issued by The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria

 A conference taking place in Cumbria is set to address some of the key issues surrounding suicide, giving insight into prevention techniques taking place across the UK. The Suicide Prevention: New Frontiers event aims to support frontline staff in understanding the latest research into suicide prevention in order to influence practice in their individual healthcare settings.

In the three-year period between 2013 and 2015, the North East region had 12.4 deaths per 100,000 population, while Cumbria had 11.9 per 100,000 – both above the national average of 10.1. Further studies have also painted a concerning picture of the issues around suicide, highlighting that: In Cumbria, on average, one person dies each week as a result of suicide accounting for around 50 suicides per year.
Rates of suicide in males is more than three times higher than in females in Cumbria. Nationally, male and female suicide rates are greater in those aged 45-49 years. Suicide in England remains one of the leading causes of premature death.

Organised by the Academic Health Science Network North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) in conjunction with Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the event aims to address these worrying figures by showcasing models of care and evidence in the field of suicide prevention and support the development of best practice across a range of settings and patient groups. Over 200 healthcare professionals are expected to attend Penrith’s Rheged Centre on Monday 27th February where keynote speakers Dr Olivia Kirtley, University of Ghent in Belgium, Professor Rory O’Connor, University of Glasgow, and Professor Ellen Townsend, University of Nottingham, will address some of the big issues and most innovative examples of suicide prevention.

Dr Richard Thwaites, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In Cumbria we have suicide rates higher than national average so it is vitally important that we look at ways in which the healthcare community and the wider community can work together to reduce this. Within Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust a wealth of collaborative work has already been undertaken to identify risk factors and apply best practice in order to help prevent as many suicides as possible. Prevention and early intervention is key and by becoming aware of cutting edge research from experts from across Europe, we can take positive steps forward to address suicide in our region.”

Suicide prevention is a main project area of the AHSN NENC’s Mental Health programme. The programme was established in 2015 and has been identified as a priority by the AHSN NENC, which was established to improve healthcare and implement cost-saving efficiencies in NHS services.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Elaine Readhead, Mental Health programme manager at the AHSN NENC, said: “Circumstances surrounding suicide are often complex and there isn’t just one risk or attributable factor. This is why it is seen locally as a priority for focused action. It’s pleasing to see so many people signing up to attend the suicide prevention conference and we hope we can get as many healthcare professionals as possible talking about the key issues that surround this area of mental health. By finding solutions and new ways of working that we can then roll out both regionally and then nationally we can work towards meeting the mental health needs of the population.”