Charity consortium drafted in by government to tackle suicide risks

A consortium of charities has been recruited by the government to investigate factors leading to self-harm and suicide among pregnant women and new mothers.

The Tommy’s and Sands led maternity consortium has been drafted in as part of the Department of Health and Social Care’s national suicide prevention strategy, which launched this week.

This strategy aims to better understand the threat of suicide among high risk groups, including middle aged men, autistic people, young people as well as pregnant women and new mothers.

Other members of the consortium include National Maternity Voices, Pregnancy and Baby Charities Network, Five X More, Muslim Women’s Network UK and LGBT Mummies.

The consortium has been brought in to gather the views of pregnant women and young mothers who have had or at risk of suicidal thoughts or have self-harmed.

“We know how important it is to make sure the right support is available for women and birthing people during their pregnancy journey, including as they plan for pregnancy,” said Robert Wilson, head of Sands and Tommys joint policy unit, which is leading the research project.

“This is especially true where someone has a mental health condition which could put them at greater risk of harm. In order to better understand how care and support can be improved, the Sands and Tommy’s Joint Policy Unit is leading a project which will explore people’s experiences of suicide and self-harm and risk factors during the perinatal period.”

The charity consortium’s work is being funded by the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise Health and Wellbeing Alliance, which is a partnership between the charity, health and care sectors.

The government’s five year national suicide prevention strategy measures include a national alert system to notify schools, universities and charities of emerging risks of suicide and near real time monitoring of trends.

Suicide prevention funding

In August the government launched the latest round of suicide prevention grant fund for charities to support those experiencing suicidal thoughts. This latest tranche of grants is worth £10m and for projects from this year through to 2025. The deadline for applications is 11:55pm on 1 October.

Last year £5.4m worth of funding was shared by 113 charities, including James Place Charity, the Caribbean & African Health Network and Papyrus.

Steve Mallen, co-founder of Zero Suicide Alliance, which is hosted by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust Charity, has welcomed the publication of the government’s strategy.

“The new strategy was prepared in consultation with sector leaders, diverse interest groups and people with lived experience, making it a collaborative resource impacting the whole population. In addition, the inter-departmental co-operation and alignment across government in preparing the new strategy was essential and greatly welcomed.

“With the accompanying Action Plan and oversight, there is a clear intention to save lives and improve wellbeing.”

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