Suicide prevention

We’re working towards a Greater Manchester where no one sees suicide as a solution to their problems.

What we’ve achieved so far 

The Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention Strategy [link to strategy] was refreshed in 2019 and the Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention Programme Board now works to an annual action plan. Every Greater Manchester locality also has its own suicide prevention group and local action plan in place.

On 1 May 2019, the Shining a Light on Suicide campaign was launched to raise awareness of suicide and to offer hope to those experiencing suicidal thoughts or those bereaved by suicide. Following consultation with people with lived experience, the website was relaunched in 2020 with additional support resources.

The Greater Manchester Suicide Bereavement Information Service has offered support to those bereaved or affected by suicide in Greater Manchester since its launch on 1 April 2019. The impact of bereavement by suicide can be devastating, for family, friends, and the community. The service is available to people living in or registered with a GP in Greater Manchester and professionals seeking guidance on practical and emotional support, following a bereavement by suicide.

During 2020, the Speak Their Name: Greater Manchester Suicide Memorial Quilt project brought together people bereaved by suicide to create quilt squares in memory of their loved one. The Speak Their Name Greater Manchester Suicide Bereavement Group continues on Facebook with regular creative activities and peer support. A film and booklet about the project were also produced.

Bereavement can be a suicide risk factor for many without appropriate support in place so the Greater Manchester Bereavement Service was launched in April 2020 to ensure those affected can receive help for their needs.

Suicide prevention training has continued with over 20,000 people in Greater Manchester completing the free 20-minute online training since the Shining a Light on Suicide campaign was launched in May 2019.

The Lions Barber Collective BarberTALK training sessions have been delivered to a number of barbers and hair professionals across the city region and Suicide First Aid Lite virtual training is planned for 2021.

Why this matters

In 2019, there were 5,691 suicides registered in England and Wales. About three quarters of registered deaths were among men. 249 people took their lives in Greater Manchester. This is a tragic loss of those who have died and the devastating effects of each of these deaths are felt long-term, far and wide in families, communities, workplaces and schools.

The majority who die by suicide (two-thirds) are not in contact with mental health services, so suicide prevention is a shared public health and mental health priority. For every person who dies, another nine individuals will have attempted suicide so each suicide can be considered a reflection of underlying levels of poor mental health in our population.

Each death has a ripple effect within families and communities, resulting in the lives of at least 10 others being seriously affected to the extent that they are likely to find it difficult to work, to form relationships and live to their full potential but it’s believed that up to 135 people are affected by each death. In addition, it is recognised that those affected or bereaved by suicide have an increased risk of suicide attempts and dying by suicide themselves, though protective factors can reduce this risk.

Numbers of deaths by suicide by Borough (2019)

ONS Suicide registrations by Local Authority

Local Authority Number of Suicides
Bolton 28
Bury 12
Manchester 46
Oldham 16
Rochdale 13
Salford 34
Stockport 23
Tameside 17
Trafford 19
Wigan 41
Greater Manchester 249

Please note: The ONS state that their ‘figures are for deaths registered, rather than deaths occurring in each calendar year and are for persons aged 10 years and over. The National Statistics definition of suicide includes all deaths from intentional self-harm for persons aged 10 years and over, and deaths where the intent was undetermined for those aged 15 years and over. Deaths from an event of undetermined intent in 10- to 14-year-olds are not included. Although for older teenagers and adults they assume that in these deaths the harm was self-inflicted, for younger children it is not clear whether this assumption is appropriate’.

What’s next 

By March 2021

  • We want to reduce the number of people who die by suicide by 10% by 2021 – this is a national priority in the  Five Year Forward View for Mental Health which sets out a national ambition of a 10% reduction in suicide rates by 2020/2021. There is an expectation that all localities contribute to this and have strategies and plans in place to contribute to this target.
  • Mental health service providers in Greater Manchester will collaborate to work toward the elimination of suicides for inpatient and community mental health care settings by continuous quality improvement in relation to 10 key ways for improving patient safety (National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide & Safety in Mental Health)
  • We plan to strengthen the impact and contribution of wider services. The Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention Programme Board involves a range of statutory and non-statutory services, charity and voluntary sector partners and those with lived experience, to achieve its goals, reaching out to other groups and services to ensure that suicide prevention is everyone’s business.
  • We will develop, train and support our workforce to better assess and support those who may be at risk of suicide. The website includes free 20-minute online training that everyone can access but additional training opportunities will be shared.
  • We will use the learning from evidence, data and intelligence to improve our plan and our services. The last Greater Manchester suicide audit was completed in 2017 (using available 2015 data) which helped to develop the focus of the Greater Manchester and local strategies. Further opportunities to undertake an audit are currently being explored.
  • We want more people affected by suicide to be well supported through the Greater Manchester Suicide Bereavement Information Service and the support information accessible via the suicide bereavement pages on the website

By March 2022

  • All ten Greater Manchester localities will be working to achieve the principles of the ‘ten pillars of suicide prevention’ to result in Suicide Safer Communities by 2022
  • More Greater Manchester residents will be suicide aware and feel confident to speak to those they may have concern for, speak out themselves if they have suicidal thoughts and offer compassionate support to those suicide bereaved.

Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention Strategy 2020-2023