What is the Zero Suicide Alliance?
The Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) is a coalition of like-minded partners determined to work together and share best practice to help rid the UK of suicide. The ZSA has already attracted substantial support and formal membership from across the mental health system. This includes approximately half of the NHS mental health trusts in the country and a quarter of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), together with many organisations from emergency services, local government, charitable enterprises, major employers and community groups.

Why is the number zero so important?
The concept of zero suicide is inspired by the Henry Ford system in Detroit, which began a programme of screening every patient for risk of suicide, not just those with mental health issues, in 2001 and enjoyed significant results. The suicide rate among its patient population fell by 75% within four years and by 2008, they eliminated all suicides among people in their care.

Some people believe having a similar aim to reach zero suicide within the UK is an over-ambitious objective. Yet the founding members of the ZSA asked themselves, if the target is not zero, what is an acceptable number for deaths by suicide? The Zero Suicide Alliance aims to challenge the thinking that simply reducing suicide rates is enough. The Zero Suicide Alliance believes that no death by suicide should be regarded as either acceptable or inevitable. Each and every one of them has an incalculable impact on those who know the deceased and has huge impact on society in general, the local community and its resources. Every single suicide is a tragedy because it is another person who either felt unable to ask for help or did not know how to access it. The Zero Suicide Alliance aims to change that, embedding best practice throughout the country and raising the public awareness of this often taboo subject.

How will the Zero Suicide Alliance make an impact around the UK?
We aim to encourage one million people from the UK to complete the suicide prevention training, which can be accessed from the Zero Suicide Alliance website. Each person completing the training will be provided with the skills they need to approach situations where they may encounter someone with suicidal thoughts. They will also be supported to better understand and be able to help anyone expressing suicidal thoughts or behaviours.

It means for every person that undertakes the training, everyone they encounter has a better chance of getting help if they are thinking of taking their own life. We hope that those who have done the training will also encourage friends, family and work colleagues to do the same and make a real impact on eliminating suicide in this country.

What is the ultimate ambition of the Zero Suicide Alliance?
The overall strategy and key deliverables of the Zero Suicide Alliance will be decided at a conference of all its partners next spring. At present the aim is to encourage as many people as possible to access our training package, which has been designed to be accessible to all and so stimulate a national conversation about how we can all play a part in supporting people in need.

By doing so we hope to raise awareness of suicide prevention significantly across the UK. We want to improve the support available for people contemplating suicide, improve the confidence of those who suspect they know someone who may be considering taking their own life and help give them the skills to handle any difficult conversations. The Zero Suicide Alliance hopes to identify good practices across all the mental health trusts in England and create a new strategy to be applied across the country.

How will it be funded?
We are currently lobbying private companies and the Government for funding to help establish the Zero Suicide Alliance as the central organisation to develop, innovate and share best practice of suicide prevention across the whole of the UK. We want everyone in the country to know where they should go for help, how to access help and for others to know how to help them after completing our training.

What is the impact of zero suicide at Mersey Care, one of the lead partners in the Zero Suicide Alliance, so far?
Nearly 4,000 members of staff (3795), 83.5% of Mersey Care’s workforce, have now had level one suicide prevention training, which has had the effect of not only raising awareness but prompting clinicians to questions and improve their own clinical practice and decision making. Linked to this has been the training of colleagues in other public sector organisations eg Department for Work and Pensions, other NHS organisations as well as the voluntary and private sector.

Much work has been undertaken to reduce self harm within the organisation, something that is known to be a contributory factor to suicide. Two years after Mersey Care launched their Zero Suicide Policy, the initial work on four of their inpatient wards has seen a 52% reduction in incidents of self harm and more interventions are planned and a rollout across the rest of the Trust.

As well as the competency of staff, Mersey Care has continued to focus on the learning from suicides and serious self harm. This has resulted in shorter reviews into the causes of suicides and more expedient sharing and embedding of the learning from these unfortunate events. Cluster reviews have highlighted weaknesses in systems and these have been used to implement more robust systems to prevent re-occurrence, particularly relating to key risk areas such as referral and waiting times.

The use of technology to support staff in their clinical decision making, and identification of increased risk of suicide, continues to be a major focus for the organisation and partnerships with other organisations. They include The Risk Authority at Stanford, will allow us to model our future service delivery to further reduce the risk of suicide in our patient population and the public generally.

How do people sign up to join?
Just CLICK HERE and pledge your support for the Zero Suicide Alliance by taking our FREE suicide prevention training which could help you to save a life and become better prepared to help someone with suicidal thoughts.

What is the training all about?
It’s a simple but effective training video that combines facts about suicide with stories of real people who have experienced the impact of it on their lives. It also provides advice on how to speak to someone with suicidal thoughts and real life scenarios to give the skills to be able to deal with difficult conversations with loved ones, friends or colleagues.

Who is training for?
It’s for everyone. This isn’t just for clinicians, nurses or other healthcare workers. It isn’t just for those with history of mental health issues, either. It’s for everyone because each and every one of us will know someone who may have problems mounting up and who may need help.

How long will the training take?
We estimate that you can do the training in the time it takes to do the office coffee round, or put on a family washing cycle at home. You can finish the training in just 15 to 20 minutes, quicker than it took Mo Farrah to win the world championship 10,000m gold in London last August. Surely 15 to 20 minutes of your time is worth it if it helps save a life? It can help just one person with suicidal thoughts go for help rather than try to take their own life.

Who are Relias?
Relias is the official training partner of the Zero Suicide Alliance. They are a leading global provider of online learning solutions for health and social care, serving over 6,000 client organisations world-wide. Working with content experts at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Relias built the e-learning resource called ‘Suicide. Let’s Talk’, which focuses on developing the awareness, skills, and confidence to help those in need. Relias aims to make this vital training accessible to everyone who wants to learn more about how they can become best prepared to support someone in need. Their initial aim is to get more than a million people across the UK to complete the training via the Zero Suicide Alliance website, so that we can all play a more effective role in suicide prevention.

Why are Relias involved in the Zero Suicide Alliance?
Relias’ mission is to measurably improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of society and those who care for them. Originating in the US, they are the leading provider stateside of online training for mental health and disabilities care with a 15 year history of specialisation in this field, and are now working with the NHS. Relias is involved in the Zero Suicide Alliance because the company has long been focused on achieving a profound impact on mental health outcomes through the power of good training. In the Alliance, Relias joins like-minded partners compassionately driven to eradicate suicide in the UK.