Reading’s Response to the Berkshire Suicide Strategy

READING Borough Council is working closely with partners in a bid to reduce and prevent suicide in the borough.

The Council this week published its suicide action plan, which has been developed with local partners and is part of a wider Berkshire Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The aim of the strategy and the local action plan is to reduce suicide rates by reducing the risk of suicide amongst key high-risk groups, as well as ensuring better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide is available.

The draft Berkshire Suicide Prevention Strategy 2017-2020, which includes Reading’s action plan, goes before Reading’s Health and Wellbeing Board for endorsement and approval on Friday 24th March.

Key objectives from Reading’s action plan include:

  • developing a communications plan to increase awareness of support available;
  • develop post discharge support for people who have used mental health services;
  • review local Drug and Alcohol Treatment contracts to ensure suicide prevention objectives are included;
  • support the review of CALMzone (which works to decrease number of suicides among young men) and the development of future plans for support services which target men;
  • tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups – such as young people, survivors of domestic or sexual abuse;
  • reduce access to the means of suicide where possible; and
  • provide better information, signposting and support to those who are bereaved or affected by suicide.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health, said: “Suicides are tragedies for all involved. For every person who dies by suicide at least 10 people are directly affected. Support for those bereaved, including the professionals who deal with the suicide, is vitally important. 

“Huge government funding cuts to our Council, together with the worsening underfunding of health services, mean there will be much we could do to support Reading people at risk of suicide that we will struggle to fund. 

“The key thing for us to take forward is that suicide is preventable. By developing the Reading action plan and working closely with our local partners and neighbouring authorities, we will continue to strive towards a Berkshire without suicide.”

View the full report here: (Item 8)



Background information

There were 4,882 deaths from suicide registered in England in 2014 and for every person who dies at least 10 people are directly affected.

Nationally, suicide continues to be more than three times as common amongst men aged 45 to 59. Studies have found that local areas with greater rises in unemployment have also experienced higher rises in male suicides.

In Berkshire, suicide is more common amongst men, with 70% of the deaths (recorded between 2007-2014)  falling in the age brackets 30-44 and 45-59 years. The percentage of deaths among the unemployed rose from 13% to 38% over the same period.

The government target on all NHS agencies and local authority partners is to reduce the current level of suicide by 10% by 2020. The Berkshire strategy forges ahead with a target to reduce suicide by at least 25% by 2020, thus ensuring that this becomes a shared priority across organisations and areas.


Victoria Nickless

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