Resetting the relationship between local and national government. Read our Local Government White Paper

Must know: suicide prevention

Suicide is a major issue for society and a leading cause of years of life lost. There were 5,021 deaths from suicide registered in England in 2018 and for every person who dies at least ten people are affected.

View allMental health articles
View all Councillor development articles

Councils are well placed to prevent suicide because their work on public health addresses many of the risk factors, such as alcohol and drug misuse, and spans efforts to address wider determinants of health such as employment and housing. There are also important opportunities to reach local people who are not in contact with health services through online initiatives or working with the voluntary and community sector.

However, councils cannot do this alone. A local suicide prevention plan combines actions by local authorities, mental health and health care services, primary care, community-based organisations and voluntary agencies, employers, schools, colleges and universities, the police, transport services, prisons and others.

Councils have been active on suicide prevention work in recent years. Significant progress has been made in getting plans for suicide prevention into place. Attention is now focused on ensuring action is taken to reduce suicides.

Preventing suicide is achievable. The delivery of a comprehensive strategy is effective in reducing deaths by suicide through interventions that build community resilience and target groups of people at heightened risk of suicide. Councillors, directors of public health and health and wellbeing boards have a central role. Their involvement is crucial in coordinating local suicide prevention efforts and ensuring every area’s strategy is turning into action.