Councillor Rezina Chowdhury introduced the Strategy and said:
· The pandemic had changed the conversation around mental health and wellbeing.
· In 2021, University Oxford Press found children choose ‘anxiety’ as the word of the year which was both concerning and encouraging as normalising the language around mental health was the first step to removing stigma and seeking help needed.
· Suicide prevention was key in Lambeth, where an average of 17 people took their lives every year, which on average significantly affected an additional 10 others.
· Two thirds of those who committed suicides had not been known to services.
· Any suicide was one too many and Lambeth Council worked with the Mayor of London to reach the goal of zero suicide.
Margherita Sweetlove, Public Health Specialist, and Sarah Anderson, Listening Place, presented the Strategy and informed the Board that:
· Three quarters of suicides in Lambeth were men and the total figure had reduced since the previous Strategy.
· Suicide was more common in people aged 20-50 and in men from 30 - 39 years old.
· The Mayor of London’s ambition to achieve London as a Zero Suicide City by 2028 would only be achieved through effective partnership work, based on evidence to identify and tailor to key high risk groups to deliver a sensitive service.
· High-risk factors included: social isolation, male, LGBTQ+, substance misuse, minority ethnic groups, and the prison system; with menopause being explored as another factor.
· Two more action plans would be developed after two years of the Strategy.
· There was the provision of regular suicide training, Southeast London Bereavement Support Services ensured awareness and support groups.
· There was an audit of Thrive LDN, public mental health research, suicide surveillance data.
· The year one Action Plan included social campaigns aimed at reducing stigma around mental health.
Sarah Anderson, Listening Place, informed the committee that:
· A Listening Place provided face to face support for those affected by suicide.
· Often, those admitted to the A&E department at Guys and St Thomas’ (GSTT), or Kings College Hospital, were discharged after physical and psychiatric assessments to their GPs.
· GPs could make referrals, however there were long waiting list for one-on-one Psychological Wellbeing Service (IAPT) services and Listening Place referrals often came from talking services, the hospitals and GPs.
· The Listening Place in Pimlico was closest to Lambeth and received an average of 500 suicide-related referrals every month, with over 100 appointments a day.
· 68% of referrals came from the NHS and one third had been in touch with secondary mental health services, with 6% self-referrals.
· The service was a volunteer-based, confidential service and offered rapid response.
· Working with the Lambeth Suicide Prevention Partnership enabled referrals, such as those from Samaritans or British Transport Police.
It was noted in response to questions that:
· Children bereaved by suicide were included in bereavement support and the work of Winston’s Wish to support bereaved children was noted.
· Improved data quality was needed to understand the scale of increasing cases of self-harm, as this was collected nationally.
· The Listening Place was a London-based charity, and 16% of referrals were from Lambeth, as the second highest borough in terms of referrals (1,000 referrals up to the end of December 2021).
· The Listening Place worked closely with the GSTT psychiatric liaison team, and further discussion and feedback was welcomed for improvement.
The Chair thanked the partnerships for their work to make the system work better and Councillor Rezina Chowdary for leading the Strategy and its launch.
1. To agree the Lambeth Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan (2022 – 2025).