Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is urging all National Health Service trusts to commit to a "zero suicide" ambition in an effort to not just reduce but completely prevent suicides in the United Kingdom.
Taking inspiration from Detroit, Clegg believes a lot of suicides could have been prevented by changing the way how people under the mental health care of the NHS are being treated so they don't turn to taking their lives after moving from or leaving the health service they were assigned to.
"People are genuinely scared to talk about [suicide], never mind intervene when they believe a loved one is at risk. That's why I'm issuing a call to every part of the NHS to commit to a new ambition for zero suicides. We already know that this kind of approach can work in dramatically reducing suicides," said Clegg.
In England alone, over 4,700 people have committed suicides in 2013, a 6-percent increase from numbers in 2012. The approach Clegg wants to take advantage of let Detroit cut suicide rates in the city among patients by 75 percent in four years.
Created by the Henry Ford Medical Group, the approach was set in place in 2001 which involved improving staff training, increasing patient contact and educating families of those at risk better. Aside from drastically dropping by 75 percent in the first four years of being used, the approach also led to the complete eradication of suicides in patients by 2008.
As a start, Liverpool's Mersey Care NHS Trust will be following a similar strategy, where a Safe from Suicide Team will be created, pooling together experts that can provide quick and thorough assessments of at-risk patients 24/7.
Additionally, patients admitted with self-harm injuries will be given improved care, offering on-the-spot therapies as well as follow-ups to ensure they are safe after being sent home. To aid in better understanding at-risk patients, data collection will also be improved, allowing more focused resources to be developed for patient use.
Dr. David Fearnley, a medical doctor from the trust, believes that a reduction in suicide rates will be noticeable within 18 months of employing the strategy. He added that the kind of attention given to serious physical injuries are usually given utmost importance in a hospital setting must also be afforded to suicides. Completely eradicating suicide may seem ambitious at this point but it is definitely doable and will be achieved by NHS trusts with the proper approach.