This report is due to be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at a meeting scheduled to take place on 30th July 2020. There is the possibility that the Committee will agree changes to the recommendations. The Committee’s conclusions in respect of this matter will be reported to the Executive Committee.
The Chair of the Suicide Prevention Task Group, Councillor Debbie Chance, presented the group’s final report. Members were advised that this had been a sensitive and complex issue to review and Councillor Chance thanked the other five members of the group for their assistance with the investigation.
There had been a slight delay in terms of the presentation of the group’s findings to the Overview and Scrutiny and Executive Committees due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the review the group had held 11 meetings and spoken to eight witnesses, both Council Officers and external partners, between June 2019 and June 2020.
The group had learned a lot about the impact that deaths by suicide could have on people’s friends and families. Members had discovered that bereaved relatives who had lost a loved one to suicide were at higher risk of death by suicide. A concerning finding had been that many of the deaths were amongst persons not previously known to mental health services, or who had not confided in anyone that they were struggling.
Members had been advised that on average one person died each week as a result of suicide in Worcestershire. In Redditch, for the three-year period from 2015 to 2017, there were 26 deaths by suicide of which 84% were among men.
The investigation had primarily focused on services that were not provided by Redditch Borough Council. Members had reviewed the content of the Worcestershire Suicide Prevention Plan and had been greatly assisted by the county’s Public Health team.
The group’s recommendations focused mainly on the Council’s influencing role. Key objectives of the review had been to review suicide in general and the mental health services available to Redditch residents. This had taken into account services provided by both public sector organisations and the valuable contribution of Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations.
The witnesses interviewed by the group had highlighted the need for awareness raising and training and this was reflected in the recommendations. The group were also guided by the Equalities Team to look at how the Council’s Equalities Strategy could be updated to include actions that supported suicide prevention. The other recommendations covered the assistance that could be provided to VCS groups to enable those bodies to better publicise their services and generally promoting awareness around suicide prevention.
Following the presentation of the report Members discussed the group’s findings and recommendations. Members noted that the report had been dedicated to Mr Mike Lewington, who had been interviewed during the review and had sadly passed away since then. Members also noted that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had endorsed the group’s recommendations unanimously.
Reference was made to the suicides that had occurred in Redditch in recent years, particularly at Musketts Bridge and Members noted that messages of hope that had been secured to the bridge had subsequently been removed. Borough and County Councillors had been working hard in recent years to support people experiencing mental health difficulties and the group’s findings would help to inform ... view the full minutes text for item 5