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Suicide action reduces death rates

Strategies for tackling suicide have led to falling death rates in England and Wales, a study has found.

Health authorities that implemented the recommendations saw suicide rates decrease between 1997 and 2006.

In contrast, those that did not introduce them saw little change.

The recommendations were made in the 1990s by the National Confidential Inquiry (NCI) into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness.

They included a wide range of measures such as removing ligature points from wards, community outreach, provision of a 24-hour crisis team, seven-day follow-up for discharged patients, multidisciplinary reviews, sharing information with criminal justice agencies and families, and continuous training for frontline staff.

Between 1997 and 2006, the NCI recorded 12,881 suicides within 91 mental health services in England and Wales.

By 2006, authorities that implemented between seven and nine recommendations had a suicide rate of nine deaths per 10,000 patient contacts per year. Authorities implementing between zero and six had a suicide rate of 11.

Provision of 24-hour crisis care was associated with the biggest fall in suicide rates.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Losing a loved one to suicide is a tragedy and we want to make sure that we are doing all we can to prevent suicides and give vulnerable people the support they desperately need.

"This research shows how mental health trusts following national guidance can save more lives and we want mental health trusts to look carefully at the results."

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