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Cornwall working together for zero suicides

By Public Health Consultant Dr Ruth Goldstein

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This Suicide Awareness Day (10 September), Cornwall Council is recognising the hard work of staff and partners across the region who are helping Cornwall in its ambition towards zero suicide.

Sadly Cornwall has a relatively high rate of suicides, greater than the average across England, so Cornwall Council’s public health team are currently involved in a large programme of work to understand better why this happens, and to take steps to prevent people from getting any form of mental ill health, preventing them from getting to the stage where they feel they have to suicide.

Suicide is one of those topics that we don’t often talk about but has a huge impact on people’s lives, not only the person who dies but all their family, friends and colleagues.

The wide range of work that is happening across Cornwall focusses on giving the right training to those people we all regularly come into contact with in the community, such as staff working in Primary Care, particularly those in GP surgeries, to help them recognise the signs of mental ill health.

Training is also being offered to sports coaches in the region, as well as a public health campaign encouraging more people to get active, recognising the positive effects of exercise on physical and mental wellbeing. More information can be found on the Healthy Cornwall website 

We have also prepared a comprehensive guide for work places to offer support following suicide of a work colleague, recognising that people in a workplace where someone has died by suicide may exhibit signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or secondary trauma. You can download the pack from Healthy Cornwall's website 

If someone has their leg in plaster people are immediately sympathetic but part of the problem is that no one sees mental ill health so it doesn’t trigger that compassion or empathy that would make a world of difference to someone in crisis.

So, central to all of this is the advice and encouragement to get more people to talk about their feelings. We know that some people can find this challenging so our public health campaigns, ‘How you really feeling?’ and ‘Don’t flush your life away’ are designed to help.

All together this work helps to build our suicide prevention work led by the Council in partnership with primary care, Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, Outlook South West and not forgetting a huge number of voluntary organisations whose support is invaluable.

If you need some support then you can visit the how are you really feeling? pages which support people in crisis or help people to start the conversation with someone.

More information on the 'How are you really feeling' campaign can be found on our website. You can also find out more about the 'Don't flush your life away' campaign

Posted on 10 September