World Suicide Prevention Day – 10th September 2019

10 September 2019

Preventing suicide requires the efforts of many and the theme of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), is ‘Working Together’. It takes family, friends, co-workers, community members, educators, religious leaders, frontline services, local government and political officials to develop an effective prevention approach to suicide. And so today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, I am keen to reflect on how, across Yorkshire and the Humber, we are working together both to prevent, and to reduce the impact of suicide.

Suicide Prevention remains a universal challenge. There are around 4,500 people who take their own lives each year in England and suicide remains the leading cause of death for men under 50. The Yorkshire and the Humber region has some of the highest suicide rates in England. Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague and for each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected (IASP, 2018).

Suicide is linked to a wide variety of factors – depression, alcohol and drug misuse, unemployment, financial hardship, family and relationship problems, social isolation and loneliness. There continue to be challenges but there are practical steps that can and should be taken as part of a broad prevention approach.

Since 2012 each local authority in Yorkshire and the Humber has had the responsibility for developing local suicide action plans through their work with Health & Wellbeing Boards. Many have also formed effective multi-agency suicide prevention partnerships, incorporating public health, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), primary and secondary care, the voluntary sector, criminal justice system and those affected by suicide. There is a broad programme of work being delivered as part of these action plans and some of the key areas of work include:


  1. Reducing the risk of suicide in key high-risk groups
  2. Tailoring approaches to improve mental health in specific groups
  3. Reducing access to the means of suicide
  4. Providing better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide
  5. Supporting the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour
  6. Supporting research, data collection and monitoring
  7. Reducing rates of self-harm as a key indicator for suicide risk


Suicide prevention takes place at both a local authority level and a broader geographical level in Yorkshire and the Humber. We have three Integrated Health and Care Partnerships – Humber, Coast and Vale; West Yorkshire and Harrogate; and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw. Suicide prevention is an important part of this partnership work and some of the most recent activity undertaken across the Partnerships to prevent suicide and provide more support to those affected includes:


  • The development of Real Time Surveillance systems, which enables the provision of timely support to those bereaved by suicide
  • Working with the media to ensure sensitive approaches to the reporting of suicide
  • Developing innovative ways to engage men, delivered in partnerships with leisure, sporting and community organisations, like football, rugby and boxing clubs
  • Training fire fighters in suicide prevention techniques
  • Using Artificial Intelligence to predict who might be most at risk
  • Delivering targeted suicide prevention campaigns
  • Developing consistent bereavement support services for those who have been bereaved from, or affected by, suicide


There are number of activities taking place across Yorkshire and the Humber today to mark the day, to remember those who have lost their lives to suicide and raise awareness of suicide prevention. I encourage as many of you as possible to get involved. You can make a difference – you can raise awareness about the issue, educate yourself and others about the causes of and warning signs of suicide, show compassion and care for those who are in distress in your community, question the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health problems and share your own experiences.

I would also encourage you to undertake the Suicide Prevention Training that has been developed by the Zero Suicide Alliance – it takes just twenty minutes and it could save a life:

Let’s all of us look after each other and do more to make a difference together.

Julia Weldon

Director of Public Health and Adult Services, Hull City Council and Director of Public Health Sponsor for the Yorkshire & Humber Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Community of Improvement

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.