To receive a presentation regarding an update on suicide prevention in Rotherham.
Consideration was given to an update presentation in respect of suicide prevention in Rotherham presented by the Strategic Director of Adult Care, Housing and Public Health and Public Health Specialist. The presentation included national context, changes to the way suicide is tracked, and how Rotherham’s rates compare with that of similar localities and with the nation. Rotherham’s action plan was described as well as examples of partnership working and various avenues of support for suicide prevention.
In discussion, Members expressed the desire for more information around wider factors that intersect with suicide. The response clarified these factors including relationship breakdown, relationship loss, financial hardship, and other sources of emotional distress. It was noted that only about one third of suicides are related to a mental health condition; therefore, it was important to have multiple pathways to support rather that simply by the health care route.
Members also requested further assurances that learning is shared between neighbouring areas where rates are lower. The response from officers noted that the regional neighbours work closely together and network to share good practice continually. Action plans were also assessed by national Samaritans, and national leaders have been to visit Rotherham twice, and had commented on the good practice at Rotherham that should be implemented more widely throughout the nation.
Members also requested clarification around historic changes to the way instances of suicide have been recorded and whether the data is accurate. The response from officers provided assurances that Rotherham’s data was accurate and that the coroner does not have a greater preparedness to determine a death as a suicide than in other areas.
Members also expressed concerns around Rotherham’s higher-than-average figures for men as well as now the sharply rising category for women as well. The response noted national picture for men in 40s and 30s is also being reflected locally. Specific findings regarding the need to support children who have been bereaved by suicide were also cited.
Members expressed the desire to know more about what tailored support is available and what good practice is being put in place to help target vulnerable groups specifically based on their unique needs. The response from officers noted the differences in age groups and gender and how these groups are being supported, especially children who have experienced bereavement due to suicide.
Members expressed interest in the take up, effectiveness, and sustainability of the small grants funding. The response gave details about the nature and use of this funding, which is usually small, one-off sums that become available and are applied for on an ongoing basis, but the effects of these can be far-reaching.
Members also sought more information around learning that has been captured during the pandemic about how to more effectively support individuals who may be at risk. The response from officers noted apps and resources that are available, including the Stay Alive app for smartphones. The response further noted the Make Every Contact Count training of Council staff.
Members wished to hear an update around suicide prevention training of the voluntary sector and Councillors. The response from officers provided resources and referenced potential training that is available while noting the challenges the pandemic has presented in terms of in-person training.
1. That the update be noted, and that the next update be presented in 12 months, to include analysis of contributing factors.
2. That a resource pack be circulated to Members, and that two members be invited to participate in the Train the Trainer programme.
3. That every effort is made to ensure that positive work sustained by the small grants funding can continue.