Suicide Prevention: Policy and Strategy

This House of Commons Library briefing paper examines suicide prevention policies and strategies throughout the UK. It outlines national and local approaches to prevention policy in England, as well as Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

suicide prevention
Image source: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk

This briefing paper begins with a statistical overview of suicide rates throughout the UK over time, using the latest data from the Office of National Statistics, which were published in September 2017. These show that in Great Britain in 2016 there were 5,668 recorded suicides which represented a slight fall since 2015 and the lowest overall number since 2010.

Also provided is an overview of suicide prevention policies and strategies in the UK, as well as their various updates; the latest of which from the UK Government is the Third Progress report, published in January 2017.

Full report: Suicide Prevention: Policy and Strategy

Advertisements

Academic performance predicts risk of suicide attempt in adults

A. Sörberg Wallin et al. |Suicide attempt predicted by academic performance and childhood IQ: a cohort study of 26 000 children | Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica | 2017 | via ScienceDaily

In this study, poor academic performance, measured as grade point average (GPA) at age 16, was a robust and strong predictor of suicide attempt up to middle age.

After controlling for potential confounding factors including childhood IQ, those in the lowest GPA quartile had a near five-fold higher risk of suicide attempt than those in the highest quartile:

Objective

Academic performance in youth, measured by grade point average (GPA), predicts suicide attempt, but the mechanisms are not known. It has been suggested that general intelligence might underlie the association.

Methods

We followed 26 315 Swedish girls and boys in population-representative cohorts, up to maximum 46 years of age, for the first suicide attempt in hospital records. Associations between GPA at age 16, IQ measured in school at age 13 and suicide attempt were investigated in Cox regressions and mediation analyses.

Results

There was a clear graded association between lower GPA and subsequent suicide attempt. With control for potential confounders, those in the lowest GPA quartile had a near five-fold risk (HR 4.9, 95% CI 3.7–6.7) compared to those in the highest quartile. In a mediation analysis, the association between GPA and suicide attempt was robust, while the association between IQ and suicide attempt was fully mediated by GPA.

Conclusions

Poor academic performance in compulsory school, at age 16, was a robust predictor of suicide attempt past young adulthood and seemed to account for the association between lower childhood IQ and suicide attempt.

Full abstract at Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica

Suicide Prevention Planning Guidance – One Year On

All-suicide-rates-age-and-gender-GB-2016
Image source: Public Health England/National Suicide Prevention Alliance.

In this latest Public Health Matters article, Helen Garnham and Gregor Henderson look at the progress made since the publication of Public Health England’s  suicide prevention planning guidance

Along with the National Suicide Prevention Alliance  (NSPA), Public Health England have produced a range of resources to support suicide prevention, and the latest release includes examples of good practice and a series of case studies.

These are supported by a slide pack which professionals can use to make the case and provide guidance on developing suicide prevention activities as well as a range of infographics. 

Full detail via Public Health Matters

Suicide and homicide annual report

National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide: Annual Report 2017 | The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP)

This 2017 annual report from the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness (NCISH) provides findings relating to people who died by suicide or were convicted of homicide in 2005-2015 across all UK countries.

The full report, an executive summary and accompanying infographics are available to download below.

Suicide in children and young people linked to bereavement, new report finds

National suicide study also calls for better support for students, internet safety and services for children who self-harm.

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Health Illness (NCISH)  has published Suicide by children and young people: National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness.

suicide
Image source: http://www.hqip.org.uk

This report examines findings from a range of investigations, such as coroner inquests, into the deaths by suicide of people aged under 25 between January 2014 and December 2015 in England and Wales, extracting information about the stresses they were facing when they died.

  • The report emphasises the emotional impact of bereavement on young people and recommends that bereavement support should be widely available.
  • The researchers call on universities to do more to promote mental health on campus and support students who may be at risk.
  • The study identifies the treatment of self-harm as the most important service response in preventing suicide in young people.

Additional link: HQIP press release

Teenagers turned away by overstretched health services resort to drastic action to get help

lonely-1822414_1920

Funding cuts to mental health services have made thresholds for treatment so high that young people are risking their lives in desperate bids to get help, according to the Times Educational Supplement. The article goes on to say that stretched children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are driving growing numbers of pupils to make what look like suicide attempts just so they can have their mental illness treated.

A survey conducted by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner showed that, of all pupils referred to CAMHS in 2015 (the latest figures available), only 14 per cent were able to access the service immediately.

Meanwhile, 28 per cent of those referred were not allocated a service at all. In some areas, this figure was as high as 75 per cent.

Read the full article: Pupils risking their lives as mental health services collapse

Strategies to prevent death by suicide

Riblet, N.B.V. et al. The British Journal of Psychiatry | Published online: April 2017

handshake-2009183_960_720.png

Background: Few randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have shown decreases in suicide.

Results: Among 8647 citations, 72 RCTs and 6 pooled analyses met inclusion criteria.

  • Three RCTs (n = 2028) found that the World Health Organization (WHO) brief intervention and contact (BIC) was associated with significantly lower odds of suicide (OR = 0.20, 95% CI 0.09–0.42).
  • Six RCTs (n = 1040) of cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) for suicide prevention
  • Six RCTs of lithium (n = 619) yielded non-significant findings (OR = 0.34, 95% CI 0.12–1.03 and OR = 0.23, 95% CI 0.05–1.02, respectively).

Conclusions: The WHO BIC is a promising suicide prevention strategy. No other intervention showed a statistically significant effect in reducing suicide.

Read the full abstract here