Region’s mental health trust joins zero suicide alliance

Liz Howlett, suicide prevention lead with NSFT. Photo: NSFT

Liz Howlett, suicide prevention lead with NSFT. Photo: NSFT - Credit: NSFT

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has given its backing to a new national campaign which supports the ambition of creating a world where suicide does not exist.

The trust has joined the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA), which is a coalition of like-minded NHS organisations, emergency services, local government, charities, large employers and community groups, who are all committed to raising awareness of suicide prevention.

By working closely together, the coalition hopes to share good practice and improve the support available for people contemplating taking their own life so that everybody knows where to go for help or what to do if they meet someone who is suicidal.

As part of its commitment to the initiative, NSFT has also pledged that every member of staff – including those working in non-clinical roles – will compete ZSA e-learning on suicide prevention. This will provide them with the necessary skills to approach people who may be having suicidal thoughts, as well as helping them access further support.

The trust's backing for the project comes in addition to its five-year suicide prevention strategy, which launched in 2017.

Antek Lejk, NSFT chief executive, said: 'Our board is fully committed to this incredibly important aspiration. We know that our staff are already signed up to doing everything that they can to ensure our services continue to improve so that any avoidable death within our services is prevented.

'But this is much bigger than just concerning people using mental health services – around 70pc of people who take their own life will not have tried to access mental health services. So we need to work together within our communities to have a greater understanding of the issues surrounding suicidal thoughts and behaviours, and all do our bit to raise awareness, reduced stigma and support those who need our care.

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'And, of course, as a trust we must continue to work very hard to ensure that there are excellent and accessible services in place which meet the needs of people in crisis, or when they need our help.'

Liz Howlett, suicide prevention lead with NSFT, said: 'We are proud that NSFT has joined the Zero Suicide Alliance, which has been set up to raise awareness of the fact that every death is preventable if we all work together.

'Suicide has a devastating impact on families and communities, but it remains something we have a limited understanding of and struggle to talk about openly. That is why initiatives like this are so important – by raising awareness of suicide, we can also give people the confidence to approach someone if they are concerned about their behaviour. This could make a real difference to someone when they are at their most vulnerable.

'It is also vitally important that people know where to go for help when they need it. As part of our commitment to this project, we will be looking at our crisis plans to make sure that people leaving our services know where to go if they get into difficulties again. This could include a range of different options, such as the Samaritans, Men's Sheds or some of the services run by our trust.

'Joining the alliance also means we will be able to share our knowledge and learn best practice from others around the country, in turn strengthening the way all organisations work together to reduce suicide within our community.'

For more information on the Zero Suicide Alliance, visit

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