Suicide prevention strategy adopted by Hertfordshire County Council

The strategy is built around an ambition to make Hertfordshire ‘a county where no-one ever gets to the point where they feel suicide is their only option’

Tuesday, 29th December 2020, 8:52 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th December 2020, 8:56 am

A five-year strategy that aims to cut suicide rates in Hertfordshire to zero has been adopted by the county council.

The ‘suicide prevention strategy 2020-2025’ is built around an ambition to make Hertfordshire ‘a county where no-one ever gets to the point where they feel suicide is their only option’.

And on Monday, December 14, it was agreed by a meeting of the council’s cabinet.

Suicide prevention strategy adopted by Hertfordshire County Council

Among the six priorities in the strategy is ‘support for men’, who are significantly more likely to take their own lives than women.

There is also a focus on ‘support for those who are bereaved by suicide’ and for children and young people.

And it identifies the need for training, research, data collection and monitoring – as well as work to reduce access to means of suicide.

The strategy was presented to the meeting of the cabinet by executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings.

He told councillors: “Despite the fact that Hertfordshire has a lower rate of suicide than most parts of the country, this remains an important document when you consider the grief and turmoil it brings to friends and relatives of those involved.

“Our objective is to do all we can to provide support and persuade people there are other options exist.”

The strategy replaces the county’s previous suicide prevention strategy, which was written in 2017.

Cllr Hutchings told the cabinet it was a source of great pride that since the 2017 strategy was put in place, a Hertfordshire-wide suicide network had been established.

And he reported that that network now had more than 200 stakeholders – bringing together professionals and those who had been impacted by people taking their lives.

“I think this is a really important thing for us to have done – so I am very pleased to have done that,” he said.

According to data presented to the cabinet, in the past three years (2017 to 2019) there were 270 people who took their own lives in Hertfordshire

And for each each one of those deaths there are believed to be 135 people who have been affected.

Nationally the suicide rate in Hertfordshire is lower than in other parts of the country – with data from 2016-2018 suggesting the rate is 7.9 per 100,000 in Hertfordshire, compared to the England average of 9.6.