The Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) has reached a major landmark in supporting the UK’s resilience for the effects of the coronavirus lockdown with a million people now having accessed their suicide prevention training.

Less than three years after forming as an organisation with a focus on eliminating the UK of suicide, the Department of Health and Social Care-funded ZSA has this week reached the impressive milestone in the build-up to Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May).

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Joe Rafferty, CBE, chairman of the ZSA, said: “We probably won’t know the true impact of the last few weeks and months on society until it’s all over, but we do know the stress and worry of the coronavirus is bound to have impacted people’s mental health.

“Suicide is a serious public health issue and every single death by suicide devastates families, friends and communities. We know suicide isn’t inevitable and can be preventable, which is why reaching such an incredible landmark is a fantastic achievement and means a million people have now accessed the skills to help those who may be struggling.”

Steve Mallen, one of other founder members, who lost his 18-year-old son Edward to suicide in 2015, said: “Reaching a million people was one of the fundamental targets when we first started as an organisation.

“When we lost Edward, I made a promise to myself and him that I wanted his death to mean something, to be a catalyst for change. It’s vitally important that those who followed him with suicidal thoughts are given better support, improved joined-up care and greater information and training is available so everyone knows how to approach someone who is struggling.

“Having a million people access the training is a fantastic landmark, but it’s also only a start and everyone at the ZSA wants to build on this so suicide no longer impacts society as it does today.”

The Department of Health agreed funding with the ZSA last year and reaching the million milestone was one of several targets set as part of the contract, including developing a digital resource of best practice in suicide prevention and developing a culture change awareness training package for Boards to encourage understanding of the impact of a Just and Learning Culture on suicide prevention.