National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) Annual Conference – 28 January 2021

Francesco, a BIMHN member, joined NSPA’s 7th Annual Conference in January 2021. The conference was held virtually for the first time due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The theme for this year’s conference was Suicide Prevention in a changing world. Francesco shared his thoughts and a summary of the event, which we have published below. 

Due to COVID, the conference was held online with over 350+ registered attendees. The morning session included Professor Louis Appleby who leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England and also leads The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health.

Next speaker up was Jay Nairn (Senior Mental Health & Wellbeing hub adviser with NHS England and NHS Improvement), who discussed the wave 1-3 suicide Prevention Transformation Funding that started in 2018 which was in the process of being evaluated for Wave 1 sites, but as a result of COVID there has been a delay. Wave 1 sites include the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Sustainability Transformation Partnership, and also funds the Hope Project, which was referred to as an example of a good funded project.

Jay also referred to NHS England and NHS Improvement’s ambition for each of Sustainability Transformation Partnership/Integrated Care System to secure Real Time Surveillance and make suicide bereavement/’postvention’ services available by the end of the year 20/21 for family, friends, carers, children and young people who have been bereaved by suicide.

Next to speak was Nadine Dorries (Government Minister for Suicide Prevention & Mental Health), who mentioned the importance of ensuring lived experience involvement and the additional funding the government has set aside for Mental Health that includes £57 million to develop better Crisis Care for not only adults but also Children & Young People, and over £500 million to reduce waiting times in Mental Health. A news release from the Royal College of Psychiatrists following the conference refers to the additional funding for Mental Health can be read by clicking here. Not sure that the Minister’s presence did much to inform or inspire the attendees to the conference.

The morning breakout workshop included James’ Place, which is charity to support men from dying by suicide. They operate two centres, one in Liverpool and one in London, with a third in Newcastle later this year.

A beavered mother (‘RW’) gave the attendees a powerful personal story of her daughter’s attempted suicide 15 years ago, and the brain injury that changed her daughter over time from loving and caring to challenging, and at times violent. What RW found was that there was no support for her in the area where she lived as no death by suicide had taken place, RW was able to get support after her daughter passed away in 2015 from a charity called Compassionate Friends and is now trained to hold support groups in her area which she still undertakes on behalf of Compassionate Friends.

Afternoon workshop I attended and discussed approaches to including and involving diverse lived experience. Penny Fosten (Executive Lead for the NSPA) informed that there are two elements to the NSPA Lived Experience Network.

  1. Recruited and trained 17 influencers
  2. NSPA Online Panel 230 members (of which I am a member)

Areas for improvement by NSPA include Equality & Diversity of the membership of the Influencers & Online Panel. Members to encourage more representation from Protected Characteristics groups and geographical representation. NSPA are further recruiting for Influencers (which are paid) – further details can be found by clicking here.

Comment: it was well worth attending the conference. NSPA are developing their lived experience network of influencers, but still have a way to go. They are in discussion with a couple of North West England Local Authority Suicide Prevention Panels but still have some way to go, but have the ambition to reach out to all the Local Authority Suicide Prevention Committee/Panels.