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Towards Zero Suicide

8th October 2021

To mark World Mental Health Day (Sunday 10 October) the Southern Trust has launched a new Suicide Prevention Care Pathway (SPCP).

Developed through the regional Towards Zero Suicide initiative, the pathway aims to identify and respond to patients at risk of suicide as quickly as possible.

Co-produced in partnership with service users, volunteers with lived experience, staff and key stakeholders, the SPCP pathway aims to give every patient their own unique suicide care management plan, tailored to their specific needs, to guide them through their mental health journey.

The pathway will initially be piloted in the Newry and Mourne area where frontline mental health practitioners and community counsellors will work together, to identify suicidal behaviours and use evidence based practice in suicide prevention.

Launching the pathway Dr Maria O’Kane, Interim Director of Mental Health and Disability Services for the Southern Trust explained: “Towards Zero Suicide recognises that deaths from suicide are preventable, the feelings that drive suicide are often temporary and with the right help and support people can get through a crisis and recover. This pathway aims to take a really proactive approach to suicide prevention. It aims to ensure that all the systems and processes are in place to offer a very patient-centred assessment for those at risk, provide support and treatment, whilst always remaining very flexible and family focussed to best meet the needs of every person.”

Mark Brownlee, Support and Recovery Support Worker who has been involved in developing the pathway for the Southern Trust added:  “We all have a part to play in reducing suicide. It all starts with an honest conversation when we ask someone how they are feeling. This gives them the opportunity to talk about whatever it is that is troubling them. No matter how big or small our actions may be, we can all make a difference.”

Endorsing the new pathway, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Mental Health Champion Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland said: “This Care Pathway is so important because it ensures that people in the care of mental health services receive a suicide-specific assessment and interventions that work. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and it fills me with hope to see the changes that are happening across mental health services to reduce suicidal suffering and help people create lives worth living.”

Training for staff and those involved in delivering the SPCP pathway is ongoing. The pilot will be kept under review and will help to inform regional suicide prevention developments.

Lifeline is the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. Available 24 hours a day – calls are free 0808 808 8000.

Lifeline helpline | Lifeline: Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service