News

Nurses' key role in preventing suicides

Nurses are best placed to develop a rapport and communicate with patients at risk of suicide, a leading mental health nurse said.

Nurses are best placed to develop a rapport and communicate with patients at risk of suicide, a leading mental health nurse said.

Nurses preventing suicide
Nurses can help prevent suicide Picture: iStock

South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation deputy director of nursing Mike Doyle said nurses are playing a key role in a mental health project which aims to reduce the number of suicides in the north of England.

The West Yorkshire Urgent and Emergency Care Network, which includes three mental health trusts, local authorities and emergency services, has a mental health programme operating on the principle that all suicides are preventable.

It is aiming to reduce suicides in the region by 10% by 2020.

Develop rapport

Mr Doyle, who chairs the programme’s suicide prevention task and finish group, said: ‘Nurses have the best opportunity to engage with patients and develop a rapport.

‘When you look at the evidence on what helps in preventing suicide, it is developing communication and a rapport.’

He added that at his trust, all patients who are discharged from inpatient mental health and learning disability services and thought to be at increased risk of suicide are allocated a care co-ordinator, which tends to be a nurse.

Before a patient is a discharged, a meeting takes place where plans for any community support are put in place, and the risk of suicide is clearly communicated to all those involved in the patient’s care.

The care co-ordinator holds a follow up meeting with the patient within seven days.

Counselling

Mr Doyle added that when a suicide does occur, staff debriefs and a full investigation take place, and staff can be supported with counselling.

He said: ‘Staff may have grown very close to the individual, they may feel very upset and they may feel guilty or that they could have done more.

‘That is a very common feeling and we have to make sure that they are supported as best as we can.’

Mr Doyle is speaking at the Healthcare Conferences UK event: Towards zero suicide: preventing suicide, saving lives on 15 September in London.

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 (free) or visit www.samaritans.org.

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.

Jobs