Agenda item

Suicide Prevention



1.            Tim Woodhouse, KCC Suicide Prevention Programme Manager, introduced his report to Members.  Mr Woodhouse advised that it was world mental health day and a new minister for suicide prevention had recently been announced as Jackie Doyle-Price, this was excellent news to raise the profile of suicide prevention.  


2.            Mr Woodhouse set out the highlights of his report and explained that many people who died by suicide were not known by secondary mental health services and did not have a diagnosed mental health issue.  Mr Woodhouse highlighted the ‘Release the Pressure’ campaign which signposted people to trained counsellors who were available 24/7.  NHS England had secured over £600k funding from Government for suicide prevention work in Kent, due to higher than national average suicide rates. The report highlighted ways in which that funding had been spent including continuing with campaigns and delivering training.   Mr Woodhouse welcomed any organisations or voluntary groups to attend the free training which was considered to be very valuable, giving people the skills and confidence to recognise signs of mental illness and most importantly to know what to do if someone was feeling suicidal. 


3.            Mr Woodhouse sought ideas from the KCSP of how to work more closely with those organisations present.  The Chairman referred to social isolation which could make people vulnerable and lonely.  There were queries over what the funding was being targeted towards and the Chairman suggested considering additional funding for Community wardens who could sometimes identify people who were lonely and isolated.  Mr Woodhouse explained that Community Wardens were a key group who he wanted to work with, the Wardens were accessing suicide prevention training and raising awareness. 


4.            Jess Mookherjee explained that she had been speaking at a Workplace Health event at County Hall during the morning and it was necessary to look at other innovative options that are being done in communities to foster communication and to build community connections such as ‘Men’s Sheds’. 


5.            It was highlighted that it is important to have timely and accessible services that people could access.


6.            Cynthia Allen, CRC explained that they were in the process of training staff and asked whether the suicide prevention training would be complimentary.  Mr Woodhouse explained that suicide prevention training was suitable for anyone working with members of the public including Taxi drivers, GP receptionists, café workers, barbers etc.  In addition, suitable for professionals as well as members of the public.  Mr Woodhouse would send details of the training to Members of the KCSP.


7.            In response to a question about whether training had been offered to British Transport Police (BTP), Mr Woodhouse confirmed that both BTP and Network Rail were members of the steering group and were good at training staff to recognise signs and symptoms of distress in other people.  They would be able to access the training. 


8.            In response to a question about whether the programme would be targeted around a data set.  Mr Woodhouse explained that it would be a combination, suicide could strike anywhere, although the link to deprivation was accepted and therefore more training was available in areas of higher rates of suicide.  Mr Woodhouse explained that work was also being done in schools to improve emotional resilience. 


9.            Members briefly discussed the role of social media, which, it was considered could be useful but could also be harmful and it was suggested that Mr Woodhouse link in with the Online Safeguarding Group which was a subgroup of the Risk, Threats and Vulnerabilities Group for Children and Adults.  In response to the question about social media, Mr Woodhouse advised that the campaign had paid for a google advert so that whenever someone searched for ‘want to take own life’ or words to that effect, the Release the Pressure campaign was displayed at the top ensuring the individual saw something positive and could seek help. 


10.         Ian Thomson advised that KFRS was working with the RNLI to talk to businesses located around or close to water about water safety and how to spot people at risk.  


11.         The Chairman thanked Mr Woodhouse for his interesting and timely report, the KCSP would welcome a return to this topic during 2019 alongside the report from the Social Isolation Select Committee. 

RESOLVED that a report on Suicide Prevention be brought back to the KCSP next year. 

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