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10 September 2018, 17:10 | Updated: 10 September 2018, 17:16
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, Suffolk’s suicide prevention steering group has announced it will be launching a new service to support individuals, families and others bereaved by suicide.
The 12-month pilot service will be joint funded by Suffolk County Council (SCC) Public Health and Ipswich & East Suffolk and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
The total funding for the service is £30,000, with Suffolk County Council providing £22,000 and CCGs funding £8,000.
The service will be operated by Listening Ear, who already run the AMPARO service in the Merseyside and Cheshire area.
The service will work in close partnership with the police, coroner service and other partners to offer support following notification of a suspected suicide, including 1-2-1 individual support, practical help and signposting to local services that can help.
When the new service launches, it will be widely advertised in Suffolk with options for self-referral and referral by professionals.
Suffolk’s suicide prevention strategy was launched in October 2016 with the aim of reducing the number of suicides in Suffolk by 10% by 2021 which, in Suffolk, would equate to six deaths a year. Since then, more than 400 people in Suffolk have been trained to prevent suicide and 150 have become 'Suffolk Life Savers' as part of a far-reaching campaign to reduce the number of people in the county who take their own lives.
The suicide prevention partnership comprises health and wellbeing partners including Suffolk County Council Public Health, police, coroner, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Samaritans, Suffolk Mind, Healthwatch Suffolk and others.
Cllr James Reeder, Cabinet Member for Health, said: "Suicide has far-reaching effects on family, friends and entire communities. No-one should feel they are alone, or that this is the only option. It’s great that through our partnership work in Suffolk’s Suicide Prevention strategy we have seen many people sign up as Suffolk Life Savers, but there is more to be done.
"More than 60 people die by suicide each year in Suffolk and people bereaved by the sudden death of a loved one are 65% more likely to attempt suicide if they died by suicide than if they died by natural causes.
"This is why it is so important for people to know that help is at hand. In Suffolk we have some outstanding support services who are ready to listen and offer advice and the new service operated by Listening Ear will provide additional support and collaborate with these organisations to making a real difference to people in Suffolk."
Richard Brown, CEO of Listening Ear, said: "Listening Ear are pleased to be able to bring our experience in running AMPARO to Suffolk. We know that the service makes a real difference to people who are bereaved by suicide and we will be working with locally-based Suicide Liaison Workers to deliver support to those affected by suicide in Suffolk."
Dr John Hague, Mental Health Clinical Lead for Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, said: "We all know that we are going to have to cope with bereavement at some stage of our lives. But until it happens we are not ready for the profound effect this will have on us.
"When someone is bereaved by suicide the sea of conflicting emotions is magnified. Family and friends find it hard too. This can leave a bereaved person feeling very alone and not knowing where to turn.
"The new suicide liaison service offers a skilled worker who is available very soon after the event. They will help guide the bereaved, and those close by them, both practically and emotionally through what will be one of the most difficult times of their lives."
Liz Howlett, Suicide Reduction Plan Implementation Lead with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), which is part of the partnership, said: "Suicide has a devastating impact on families and communities, which is why services like this are so important. We wholeheartedly welcome the introduction of Listening Ear, which will make it as easier for people to access the right help and support at a time when they may be at their most vulnerable."