Council to reduce suicide rates in the city and look at how pandemic has played a part in deaths

By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter

Nottingham City Council wants to understand if there is a link between suicide rates and the pandemic as part of a revised plan to reduce mental health problems and prevent people from taking their own lives.

Some of the groups at the highest risk of suicide are males, aged 35-59, as well as people already in the care of mental health services.

Nottingham has been ranked as the 11th most deprived area in the country, and people who are among the poorest are estimated to be ten times more at risk of suicide than other groups.

Overall the number of deaths by suicide across the city has reduced, from 99 people in 2017-19 to 91 between 2018-20.

According to national data, there has been no rise in suicides or self-harm incidents during post-lockdown (April to August 2020) compared to pre-lockdown (January to March 2020).

But the city council is to revise its suicide prevention action plan to understand the issues in greater detail and make changes to the way it responds.

There are 48 initiatives that will make up the plan, which were approved by partners and councillors at a Health and Wellbeing Board on Wednesday, January 26.

This includes moving to weekly reporting of potential suicide deaths recorded by Nottinghamshire Police and to expand data to include a mention of the potential of Covid-19 impact.

The council also wants to develop ‘a lessons learned’ approach looking at domestic abuse, substance misuse or learning disabilities and the part they may have played.

It also intends to work with Network Rail and British Transport Police to establish an “alert system” so high incidence locations are identified.

It will also work with the NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group to provide “a broader package” alongside core mental health services.

Helen Johnston, consultant in Public Health at Nottingham City Council and Beth Hopcraft, Public Health Insight Specialist at the council, prepared a report.

They said: “Suicide has a significant, lasting, and often devastating impact – economically, psychologically and emotionally – on individuals, families, communities, and the wider society.

“Suicide is preventable and suicide prevention remains a national and local priority. Our aim is to reduce the rate of suicide and self-harm in Nottingham City by proactively improving population mental health and wellbeing, and by responding to known risk for suicide.

“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and effective delivery of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan requires a whole system approach.”

Lucy Hubber, director of public health for Nottingham, spoke at the meeting and said the city does not know what ‘trauma’ will come through post-Covid.

“Talking to clinical colleagues there is anxiety among vulnerable people about the future of Covid and this is an important piece of work over the next year or so,” she added.

Cllr Adele Williams (Lab), chair of the board, added: “As people move back into normality – normal does not look like the way it used to.”

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