Birmingham to “smash the stigma” about suicide

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Birmingham Council House

Birmingham City Council have agreed to give their full support to a new Suicide Prevention Scheme Strategy.

The national strategy has been developed through a co-production partnership between the council and a wide range of organisations as a shared approach to reducing deaths through suicide.

All councillors present at the meeting backed the scheme. 

Conservative councillor Alex Yip said:

“I don’t want this to be a strategy which is just left on the shelf.” 

The strategy has a series of key priority areas for action across the partnership and highlights six core areas of focus: 

  • Reducing the risk of suicide in high-risk groups
  • Improving mental health in specific groups 
  • Reducing access of means to suicide 
  • Provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide 
  • Support the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour 
  • Support research, data collection and monitoring 

The Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Paulette Hamilton, who is also Vice Chair of the Well-being Board, said:

“It will not be just a document; you will see it come to life.”

Issues were raised about how suicide affects certain communities. Statistics show that there are higher rates of suicide among individuals working in skilled trade occupations like construction and among citizens born in Poland and Eastern European countries.

To reduce the risk of suicide within these high-risk groups, the council have decided to hold a workshop on the 26th February targeting these particular communities. 

Simon Morrall during his speech about “smashing the stigma” around suicide and mental health.

Conservative councillor Simon Morrall voiced his concerns about mental health experienced by men and the LGBTQ+ community and believed that it is difficult for these groups of people to come forward and “speak out” due to the attitudes around suicide. 

He said:

“As the largest council in Europe we should strengthen and resolve as a city and have a zero tolerance to suicide, we should aim to smash the stigma surrounding mental health and as the second city become the gold standard for the rest of the country to follow.”

Labour Party cabinet adviser Alex Aitkin also raised the issue of how the media and journalists need to be careful about the way they report about suicide and mental health.

He said “explicit” details about the events running up to a suicide or specifics about how a person took their own life in articles can be used by those that are thinking about taking their own life.

He said:

“Samaritans guidelines about reporting should be looked at by the media before reporting.

“Please do look at these guidelines as it could literally save lives.”

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