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A new suicide prevention strategy to reduce the number of people who take their own lives in West Yorkshire will be driven by our renewed team of Senior Responsible Officers.

It is a fact that too many people take their own lives in West Yorkshire.  

To bring the suicide rates down, we all have a part to play. This includes local authorities, the NHS, emergency services, voluntary and community sector colleagues, employers, citizens, and others.

Three Senior Responsible Officers (SRO) for suicide prevention across the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WY HCP) have been appointed to drive forward collaboration across the region, making suicide prevention everybody’s business. They support the multi-sector suicide prevention oversight group who have worked to agree on a new 5-year strategy.  

For today’s blog, each SRO explains why they stepped up to help achieve the ambition of making West Yorkshire a zero-suicide region.

Nichola Sanderson is the Deputy Director of Nursing at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Nichola Sanderson
Nichola Sanderson

“Suicide prevention has always been close to my heart as a mental health nurse”, explains Nichola.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to support and develop care and to learn across West Yorkshire, expanding knowledge, awareness, and resources.

“My experience as a mental health nurse has given me the privilege of working with people and their families at the most distressing and vulnerable times. I believe that with the right help and support, all death by suicide can become a thing of the past.

“I am really proud of so much of the suicide prevention work that has already been delivered by a range of organisations across West Yorkshire, and how each local authority has a Public Health led strategy and plan. The upcoming launch of the West Yorkshire suicide prevention strategy adds value to the work happening at place. It is an integral and a massive step for the system improvement and provides direction for the future. The new West Yorkshire Suicide Prevention website is also a fantastic source of information support and resource.”

Kim Shutler MBE is the Chief Executive Officer at The Cellar Trust in Shipley.

Kim Shutler
Kim Shutler MBE

“As the CEO of a mental health charity, suicide prevention is very close to my heart. I see this as an area which doesn’t get sufficient profile, funding, or attention, so was keen to play a role which might help to shift that dial and make a difference” says Kim.

“It is fantastic to see that this programme of work now has three Senior Responsible Officers, who each bring a very different experience. It is great to see recognition of the key role of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in reaching communities and driving this agenda. I hope my leadership experience in this area will support the breadth of the suicide prevention work we have to do and enable us to deliver the vision we have to prevent deaths by suicide. My passion is partnership working and integration, and I have seen the power of what we can achieve when we work together across sectors to make a difference. 

“So far, the Project Manager Jessica Parker has been doing a fabulous job with the governance structures and networks, bringing together key people as well as ensuring diversity of experience and input. With that, the launch of the new website and the suicide prevention strategy, I think we can really start to move things forwards.

“Suicide prevention in a post-pandemic climate will require us all to dig deep and pull together to do everything we can. We also need to work hard to raise the profile of this work. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business. It isn’t just in the domain of mental health services. I encourage everyone reading this to take a pause to think what their role could or should be.”

Darryl Thompson is the Director of Nursing, Quality and Professions at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Darryl Thompson
Darryl Thompson

“I took on this role when I became the Deputy Director of Nursing, Quality & Professions in the Trust. I was keen to understand how we could approach suicide prevention at a system and a population level, to help to positively influence all the factors along the path that might lead people to being at risk of thoughts of suicide” says Darryl.

“I have worked in mental health for over 33 years, and so have extensive clinical experience of working with people who have thoughts of suicide. Part of my clinical work was supporting people to be able to speak about these thoughts not only to me but also to their loved ones. I also have experience in setting up new services by helping to bring people and organisations together in co-production.

“I feel particularly proud of the relationships around suicide prevention that have developed across our system, working together in an open and transparent way with a shared goal.

“Going forward, I would like to embed the culture of co-production in our work so that all decisions are informed and guided by those with lived experience.”

If you would like to know more about the Suicide Prevention Programme or to join the quarterly Suicide Prevention Advisory Network, email Project Manager Jessica.Parker@swyt.nhs.uk