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Suicide prevention funding end could have ‘life or death consequences’

The LGA is urging the Government to use the Spring Budget to extend funding for suicide prevention projects.

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The end of funding for suicide prevention projects in April could have “life or death consequences” in some areas, the Local Government Association (LGA) says today.

The LGA, which represents councils across England and Wales is urging the Government to use the Spring Budget to extend funding for suicide prevention projects.

The fund, which has been worth £57 million, has helped to provide vital support for those at risk of suicide, bereaved families and run awareness campaigns in local communities. 

However, there has been no confirmation from the Department for Health and Social Care if the funding will continue beyond the end of this financial year.

In a series of case studies published today, the LGA has highlighted the vital work councils have carried out using funding from the suicide prevention campaign. 

  • In Essex, councils in the area have worked with the NHS to tackle the impact of high waiting times for treatment for depression. After someone has initially been diagnosed with depression, they have to wait between 10 and 56 days for a follow-up appointment. The funding has helped set up regular Wellbeing Calls to support people before they start full treatment and when they may be more at risk of suicidal thoughts. 
  • In Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, the councils introduced a bereavement service for those loved ones who had been affected by suicide. This included providing counselling as well as attending Coroners Court hearings. So far the service has helped over 350 local people. 
  • In Bournemouth, the council has worked with train operators and the British Transport Police in light of a cluster of suicides linked to the railways. This has included working with journalists and editors to make the reporting of suicide more sensitive.

The LGA said councils are growing concerned about having to stop projects entirely or scale them down significantly.

With long-term funding for suicide prevention schemes, councils can continue to deliver vital mental health support in their local communities.  

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said:

“This suicide prevention funding has been a lifeline for many people. Councils have used it to provide fantastic support to those in their communities who have needed help the most.

“Without a commitment by the Government to extend this funding, these vital local schemes face an uncertain future which could have life or death consequences for those who rely on them. 

“Councils desperately want to be able to keep tackling this issue, update their local suicide prevention plans in line with the new national suicide prevention strategy, and improve the wellbeing of their areas.”

Julie Bentley, CEO of Samaritans, added:

“People in serious distress cannot afford for local suicide prevention funding to dwindle away. Communities across the country rely on this money to help save lives and Samaritans stands shoulder to shoulder with the LGA in calling on the Government to urgently renew the funding in the Spring Budget.”

Notes to editors

The LGA has published five case studies highlighting the work councils are doing with the NHS and charities to prevent suicide in their area. 

Bournemouth: A multi-agency response to railway-related deaths | Local Government Association

Camden and Islington: A psychotherapy service for care-experienced young adults | Local Government Association

Mid and South Essex: Weekly telephone calls for people newly diagnosed with depression | Local Government Association

Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin: Bereavement support for people affected by suicide | Local Government Association

West Yorkshire: Reducing risk of suicide in the Gypsy and Traveller community | Local Government Association

The funding for these suicide prevention programmes have been allocated as part of the NHS’s Long Term Plan.