Nottinghamshire County Council's new suicide prevention strategy aims to fill mental health support gaps for children in care
A new suicide prevention plan is aiming to fill gaps in mental health support for Nottinghamshire children who are in care.
Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council and other agencies are trying to reduce suicides in the region through a new strategy.
It was discussed at the Nottinghamshire County Council health and wellbeing board meeting on February 7.
Gaps in support for young people in the care system or who have special needs are two areas experts hope to fix with the plan.
Committee chairman councillor Dr John Doddy said it was a “mammoth piece of work”.
Councillors also questioned experts on what measures were already in place to protect children and young people.
National data from 2019-20 found rates of suicide in children were similar across all areas and regions in England.
And 62 per cent of children or young people who did take their own lives had suffered a “significant personal loss” in their life prior to their death.
More than a third of those reviewed had never been in contact with mental health services.
Around 16 per cent of those reviewed had a confirmed diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental condition at the time of their death, and almost a quarter had experienced bullying.
A total of 19 recommendations have been put forward for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, aligned with the Suicide Prevention Strategy for England 2023- 2028.
The strategy says there is “a need to better support the needs of children and young people who are in crisis and present to the emergency department with self-harm or suicidal ideation”.
Children in care were a group highlighted as having a “particular need”.
The strategy will aim to support emotional wellbeing to “reduce self-harm and suicidality among LGBTQ+ young people in current school-based and community-based locations”.
And between 2011 and 2020, there were 73 deaths of mental health patients per year where there was evidence of suicide-related internet use, equating to eight per cent of all patient suicides.
The number has generally been increasing since 2011 though figures for 2019-20 suggest a recent fall.
Mr Doddy said: “Months of work has gone into the production of this.
“In years gone past, we wouldn’t have seen eight per cent of suicides linked to the web.
“It is a staggering new figure to appear as a cause of suicide. Do you expect that to remain static or grow?”
Safia Ahmed, Public Health registrar at the authority, said: “It’s very positive that the national strategy has highlighted online safety as a priority.
“It is difficult to explain what has happened up to this date but it is generally an increase.”
Cllr Sinead Anderson (Con) said: “How is the strategy being used in conjunction with the disproportionate number of suicides in the looked after children population?”
Dr Ahmed said: “We worked closely with teams in the Integrated Care Board (ICB). The looked-after children team highlighted that they found a gap in services for children accessing crisis care, specifically in looked-after children.
“We have developed a recommendation specifically around exploring that.”
Cllr Lynne Schuller (Lab) said: “Do we fully understand if there is additional unmet need with young people with SEND?”
Dr Ahmed said: “We acknowledge that within children and young people there are very much different at risk groups: SEND, children who self harm and LGBTQ+ groups.
“We’ve got a neurodiverse listening event that has been commissioned in the spring time. We will get lived experience from them and their parents and carers to guide how to tailor support for those people.”
Cllr John Wilmott (Ind) said: “We haven’t got the staff to go into all the schools, so how do we combat it?
“We go into schools and get teachers to learn about what to look for.
“You’ve got one teacher looking after 30 to 40 people but if they are educated enough to see what is happening it might control it down the line. It’s early intervention.”
Council documents stated: “The previous Joint Strategic Needs Assessment on Suicide Prevention was approved in February 2016. Seven years on, and post the coronavirus pandemic, research has shown increased psychological morbidity in UK populations.”
Anyone who needs urgent support with their mental health can call the Nottinghamshire Mental Health Crisis Line free on 0808 196 3779 or the Samaritans, also free, on 116 123.