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Mental health work continues as World Suicide Prevention Day is marked

10 September 2020

Throughout September Norfolk County Council is working with partners in the NHS and suicide prevention charities to ensure mental health issues are tackled as early on as possible.

Figures released on 1 September by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show suicide in Norfolk decreased by 17.6% in 2019 compared with the previous year, from 108 suicides to 89. Meanwhile the national picture is that of an increase of 5.8%, from 5,021 to 5,316.

Dr Louise Smith Director of Public Health said: “Suicide is not inevitable and preventing it is everyone’s responsibility. It’s positive to see there were fewer suicides in 2019 compared to the year before.

“But it’s also clear that this year has been tough for everyone, with the difficult but necessary lockdown restrictions affecting our work and personal lives, family occasions and events. It’s therefore more important than ever to recognise warning signs early and understand the best ways to intervene.”

Norfolk County Council is promoting ways for people to improve their mental wellbeing, so they are equipped to tackle negative thoughts before they lead to more serious mental health issues down the line. Using the Five Ways to Wellbeing or making a ‘mind plan’ can help people take recognise their mental health and take constructive steps towards getting better. For more tips on taking preventative steps and improving wellbeing, visit the Norfolk County Council website: www.norfolk.gov.uk/wellbeing

The council is also promoting the nationally-recognised Stay Alive app, which is packed full of resources, useful information, and tools to both help people struggling with suicidal thoughts stay safe, and people concerned about someone else. Those who are struggling with these kinds of thoughts can visit the council website to find a list of organisations that can help support them here in the Norfolk: www.norfolk.gov.uk/notokay

Cllr Bill Borrett, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention, said: “Our focus has been on making it easier to get help and we’ve been working hard to join up all the mental health and suicide prevention services in Norfolk to reduce any gaps in the system.

“We’re continuing to draw on the expertise and knowledge of local NHS organisations like Just One Norfolk and national charities like the Samaritans, and I’m pleased to see this has begun making a difference and we’ve seen a reduction in the suicide rate for 2019.”

Norfolk County Council this year commissioned the wider rollout of a referral system which helps make sure patients only need to tell their story once, helping them access services like counselling or therapy, as well as support for financial, housing and legal problems.

The Norfolk Community Advice Network (NCAN) referral system has been extended across acute and primary care, and system brings together a strong and inclusive network of the county’s advice agencies, reducing gaps in the system and helping inform policy made by the county’s health agencies.

Suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death in men aged under 45. As part of its suicide prevention work Norfolk County Council is providing funding for local organisations such as Menscraft and campaigns like the 12th Man to offer help, support and social activities for men.

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