Suicide prevention action plan: public engagement analysis

Analysis of responses to our engagement paper on draft Suicide Prevention Action Plan. We were inviting comments between 8 March and 30 April 2018.

2. Action 1: The Formation of a "Knowledge Into Action" Group

2.1 One of the proposals in the engagement paper was to establish a "Knowledge Into Action" (KIA) group, consisting of key national statutory and third sector agencies, and people with lived experience. The KIA group would track data analysis about self-harm and suicide, along with the emerging evidence base for effective interventions and would develop and test improvements. The engagement paper asked three questions relating to the proposed KIA group.

2.2 Around 9 out of 10 respondents (93%) agreed with that a "Knowledge Into Action" group should be established for suicide prevention (see Table 2). Both individual and organisational respondents overwhelmingly selected Yes. Some of those who answered No to stated that they were not in favour of setting up the KIA group, but others said they answered no because they did not have enough clarity about the KIA group, but were not necessarily against something like this being set up.

Table 2: Responses to Question 1a - Do you agree that we should establish a "Knowledge Into Action" group for suicide prevention?

Yes No Don't know
n=261 93% n=5 2% n=15 5%

Note: 97% of respondents (n=281) answered this question.

2.3 A total of 229 respondents provided an explanation of their answer in response to question 1b and 168 provided additional comments about improving the use of evidence, data and/or guidance on suicide prevention in answer to question 1c. The key themes that emerged are discussed below.

Purpose and Arrangements

2.4 The most common theme that emerged was around the purpose and arrangements of the KIA group. A frequently-made point was that any KIA group must be evidence-led and grounded in existing knowledge, and that the overarching purpose of this group should be to put evidence into action. Some third sector respondents called for the commissioning of new researchandmoreup-to-date evidence on suicide prevention. Others called for better use of existing data or for processes to be put in place to improve the sharing of data, evidence and good practice.Respondents strongly suggested that more monitoring and evaluation of suicide data should be carried out. It was recognised that local data should be considered alongside national data

2.5 A further point was that people with lived experience – such as those who had attempted suicide and those affected by suicide (including the bereaved) – should be included in any KIA group. It was noted that this must go beyond "tokenistic" inclusion.

2.6 Respondents suggested that the KIA group would provide an opportunity to increase collaboration between agencies and stakeholders. Some specifically requested a KIA group that was co-produced, whereby the members decide on the design, purpose and arrangements from inception. A high number of respondents suggested that a varied membership would be vital to its success.

2.7 Some respondents expressed concerns about the purpose and arrangements of a potential KIA group. The main critique was that there was not enough information or clarity provided about the proposed group, for example about its leadership, structure, purpose and objectives. Some respondents requested more information before being able to give their opinion. Another concern was whether existing initiatives would continue - most notably ChooseLife[2] - and whether funding and resource would be taken away from other areas in order to fund the new KIA group. There was also a feeling of ambiguity regarding how the KIA group would be distinct from the proposed confederation and whether there was unnecessary duplication.

2.8 A small number of respondents expressed concern over the initials KIA, noting that this is a military acronym for "Killed In Action".

The Need for Action

2.9 The second most common theme was the need for action on suicide prevention. Some respondents did not comment on the arrangements or purpose of the proposed KIA group, but stated that any group should be "strongly action focused". This was especially prevalent in responses from individuals, who were frustrated with a perceived slow progress in this area. Some respondents indicated that whatever is decided, it must build on previous work.

Targeting Specific Groups and Risk Factors

2.10 The third theme that emerged from the responses was that any KIA group should target specific groupsand consider suicide risk factors. A number of specific groups were mentioned, including those in chronic pain (notably mesh implant survivors), members of the LGBT community, veterans, people with autism and those who self-harm.

2.11 Risk factors, such as substance misuse (drugs and alcohol) and self-harm[3], were mentioned on multiple occasions as factors that should be considered by the KIA group. Others commented that the group would need to consider socio-economic and geographic disparities, and stigma surrounding suicide. Some respondents also felt that prescribed medication (including side effects and withdrawal) was an under-researched and neglected contributing factor.

Raising the Profile

2.12 Finally, there were calls for any KIA group to raise the profile of suicide prevention. This included the importance of education, general public awareness raising, young people's involvement and the continued implementation of mental health first aid.


2.13 Data was a common additional theme raised in response to question 1c. Some respondents felt that there is not enough data available to practitioners, while others suggested that data currently being collected at a local level is not used enough or was not reaching front end staff in a timely manner. Some were concerned about the reliability of current suicide prevention statistics and others commented that data needs to be used/useful, rather than collected just for the sake of it. There were also calls for data to assist in dispelling some of the myths surrounding suicide in order to tackle prevailing stigma.

2.14 Some respondents called for more data to be publicly available (open-access) and for increased data sharing between partners. Some commented on an over reliance on "hard" data and felt that people's stories and experiences need to be considered alongside statistics. Respondents also called for data to be published more widely, including in the media, to raise the suicide prevention profile.

2.15 There were contrasting views on data privacy. Some stressed the importance ofprivacy for those who present themselves as suicidal to services. Others mentioned that data protection laws have been a barrier to friends and family of the bereaved as they tried to find out information about their loved one before and after suicide.

Service Improvements

2.16 Some respondents used question 1c to discuss how data, evidence and guidance could improve service provision. The most popular point was the need to improve access to helpfor those who are feeling suicidal. Reported barriers included a lack of knowledge of where to go for support and waiting lists for mental health services. There were requests to improve the use of evidence to support local delivery and community-based approaches. A number of respondents also called for increased guidance in the education system, through school, colleges and university.

Increase Resources/Funding

2.17 Many respondents specifically mentioned the need for adequate (or increased) resources and funding to support the proposals. It was noted that if data is collected locally, local coordinators require increased budgets and time to monitor, evaluate and report this data. There were also general calls for increased resources and funding to support mental health services and training. Some respondents suggested that resources should be fed into tackling the social and economic risk factors of suicide (for example drugs, alcohol, debt, and unemployment), to improve suicide prevention.


Email: Katie Godfrey

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