A Cumbrian suicide prevention and suicide bereavement support charity is set to significantly expand its work across the county due a six-figure grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.
Every Life Matters has been awarded £312,959 over 5 years to support development of its Suicide Safer Communities programme across Cumbria, and to develop a countywide Suicide Bereavement Support Service in partnership with other local charities.
On average we lose one person a week to death by suicide in Cumbria. More than double the amount of people who die on our counties roads. Cumbria’s suicide rates remain consistently higher than the national average – nearly 30% higher during 2016-18. Barrow-in-Furness during this period also had the second highest suicide rates in the North-West of England.
Nationally 6,507 people died by suicide in the UK in 2018, roughly around one death every 90 minutes. Suicide remains the leading cause of death of young people under 25, of death of all men under 50, in the UK. Suicide remains a very significant issue in our society, and with no sign of abating. Recent trends indicate that in 2018 deaths by suicide rose by 11.8% in the UK, with the rate of deaths in under 25’s rising by 23.7%.
Chris Wood, Development Manager and co-founder of Every Life Matters said: “It’s estimated that around 1 in 17 people will have thoughts of suicide every year. In their lifetime a staggering 1 in 5 people are estimated to have thoughts of suicide and 1 in 15 will make some form of suicide attempt. Having thoughts of suicide is a common and very distressing response to challenging life circumstances, and we want to see an end to people struggling alone with these thoughts.”
Every Life Matters was founded in November 2018 by a group of individuals either personally affected by suicide or from the local third sector with a specific interest and expertise in suicide prevention. They aim to take a fresh, innovative and long term approach to suicide prevention and suicide bereavement support in Cumbria – a county that has had suicide rates well above the national average for too many years.
Duncan Nicholson Regional Head of Funding for the North East & Cumbria at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re delighted to be able to support groups like Every Life Matters turn their inspiration and ideas into practical projects to improve thousands of lives across Cumbria. With their ideas, knowledge and passion, this money changes lives.”
Their Suicide Safer Communities programme aims to raise awareness of suicide in the local community. Helping people to talk directly about suicide, to understand when someone is at risk of suicide, how we can all support someone having thoughts of suicide and to raise awareness of the range of support and services locally and nationally that can support someone in a suicide crisis.
Juliet Gray, Training Manager, and co-founder of Every Life Matters said: “Suicide needs to be addressed across all areas of our society. It’s important to understand that around three quarters of people who die by suicide are not in contact with any mental health services in the year leading up to their death This means suicide prevention needs to be community wide concern. It need to be everyone’s business.”
“It is friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours and our network of community and voluntary organisations, not just those in NHS mental health services, who have an important part to play in saving lives. These people are best placed to know when something is wrong, to spot changes in behaviour and the signs that someone might be at risk of suicide. Everyone across our community has potentially an important part to play in stopping suicide.”
Suicide Safer Community projects have already been piloted in Barrow, Copeland and Eden. This Lottery grant will enable Every Life Matters to expand activity across the rest of the County, and to co-ordinate development of the projects over a long time period. The programme will involve training delivery, grassroots community action, media campaigns and lobbying for better awareness of suicide prevention across all areas of our society.
The Lottery Funding will also support development of a Countywide Suicide Bereavement Support Service, launching in early 2020. Underpinning any successful suicide prevention programme is timely and appropriate support for people and communities bereaved and affected by suicide. Bereavement by suicide shares characteristics with other bereavements but it is also very different. It can be particularly severe and traumatic, and the grieving process is often complicated and typically lasts longer than other types of bereavement.
It is estimated that on average every death by suicide detrimentally impacts over 30 people – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, care workers, emergency services and so on – equating to around 1,560 people per year in Cumbria. Family and friends closest to the person lost to suicide are likely have their physical and mental health and significantly impacted for many years after the death.
Kate Bainbridge, and her daughter Becs, who are founder Trustees of Every Life Matters, are all too aware of the devastating impact suicide can have. They lost their son, and brother, Ben to suicide in 2014. Kate said;
“My son Ben was a brilliant and caring young man. He took his own life on the 14th June 2014. Until that day, I had no understanding of suicide. It was something that no one ever seemed to talk about openly. Suicide was something I had read about, heard about on the news, in short it was something that happened to other people. He was caring, he was outgoing, he was an organiser, he was looked up to by his peers, it seemed he had everything to live for. Ben’s death had far reaching effects locally amongst his friends, his partner, work colleagues and obviously us, his family.”
Working in partnership with other local charities including Child Bereavement UK, Cruse, Samaritans, SBS and Coroners Court Support Service, the new service will provide a central referral point for anyone bereaved by suicide in Cumbria and flexible support that changes over time with the needs of the person. With swift
referral into to the service through Cumbria Police real time alerts, individuals and families will receive timely, flexible and practical support in the early stages of bereavement.
As well as Lottery funding the new service has also benefited from financial investment from NHS Transformation Funding targeted at suicide prevention and suicide bereavement. Katherine McGleenan, the Suicide Prevention Lead for the North East/North Cumbria ICS, said: “The North east and north Cumbria are one of 10 regions to receive investment for 2019/20 as part of a wider commitment outlines in the NHS Long Term Plan to implement designated suicide bereavement care across the whole country. This investment will help provide additional funding to support the development of this vital service for people of Cumbria affected by the impact of suicide.”