Consultation on preventing suicide in England

Closed 11 Oct 2011

Opened 8 Aug 2011


Suicide is a major issue for society. The number of people who take their own lives in England has been reducing in recent years. But 4,400 people took their own life in 2009 – that is one death by suicide every two hours.

There is no single approach to suicide prevention.  It needs a broad co-ordinated system-wide approach that requires input from a wide range of partner agencies, organisations and sectors. People who have been directly affected by the suicide of a family member or friend, the voluntary, statutory and private sectors, academic researchers and Government Departments can all contribute to a sustained reduction in suicides in England.

The draft suicide prevention strategy for England sets out our overall objectives:

  • a reduction in the suicide rate in the general population in England and
  • better support for those bereaved or affected by suicide. 

We have identified six key areas for action to support delivery of these objectives:

  • Area for action 1: reduce the risk of suicide in key high risk groups
  • Area for action 2: tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups
  • Area for action 3: reduce access to the means of suicide
  • Area for action 4: provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by a suicide
  • Area for action 5: support the media in delivering sensible and sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour
  • Area for action 6: support research, data collection and monitoring.

Much of the planning and work to prevent suicides will be carried out locally. The draft strategy outlines a number of evidence based local approaches. A number of national actions to support these local approaches are also detailed for each of the six areas for action. Chapter 7 gives details of how local partnerships can work together to achieve suicide prevention and how this will be supported by national initiatives and actions across Government.

In the case of local actions, it will be for local agencies working through health and wellbeing boards to decide the best way to achieve the overall aim of reducing the suicide rate.  The draft strategy does not mandate the means of achieving any particular objective, so the interventions and good practice examples are to support local implementation and are not compulsory.

This consultation will run until 11 October 2011, and we welcome all comment on the contents of the consultation document.  There are different ways to comment.  You can:

  • Use the online questionnaire here;
  • Email your completed questionnaire to; or
  • Post your completed questionnaire to: Suicide Prevention Consultation, Mental Health and Disability Division, 216 Wellington House, 133-155 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UG.

Why We Are Consulting

We are publishing this strategy in draft and inviting comments to make sure that we have not missed anything, and to build support before implementing the agreed strategy.  We have endeavoured to make consideration of equality issues an integral part of this draft strategy, and particularly welcome comments on those aspects.

The consultation process

Criteria for consultation

This consultation follows the Government Code of Practice, in particular we aim to:

  • formally consult at a stage where there is scope to influence the policy outcome;
  • consult for at least 12 weeks with consideration given to longer timescales where feasible and sensible;
  • be clear about the consultation process in the consultation documents, what is being proposed, the scope to influence and the expected costs and benefits of the proposals;
  • ensure the consultation exercise is designed to be accessible to, and clearly targeted at, those people it is intended to reach;
  • keep the burden of consultation to a minimum to ensure consultations are effective and to obtain consultees’ `buy-in’ to the process;
  • analyse responses carefully and give clear feedback to participants following the consultation;
  • ensure officials running consultations are guided in how to run an effective consultation exercise and share what they learn from the experience.

Comments on the consultation process itself

If you have concerns of comments which you would like to make relating specifically to the consultation process itself please contact the Consultations Coordinator, Department of Health, 3E48 Quarry House, Leeds LS2 7UE.  Email:  Please do not send answers to the consultation questions to this address or mailbox.

Confidentiality of information

We manage the information you provide in response to this consultation in accordance with the Department of Health’s Information Charter.

Information we receive, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes (primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence.  In view of this it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential.  If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances.  An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by you IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the Department of Health.

The Department of Health will process your personal data in accordance with the DPA and in most circumstances this will mean that you personal data will not be disclosed to third parties.

What Happens Next

Consultation responses will inform the final suicide prevention strategy for England, early in 2012.

A summary of the response to this consultation will be made available before or alongside any further action, and will be placed on the Consultations website.


  • Voluntary groups
  • Community groups
  • Charities
  • Advocacy or support organisations
  • GPs
  • Nurses
  • Health visitors
  • Clinicians
  • Managers
  • Commissioners
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Doctors
  • Paramedics
  • Academic/ Professional institution
  • Local authority
  • Directors of Adult Social Care Services
  • Members of the public
  • Patients
  • Carers
  • Service users


  • Children's health and development
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Drug misuse
  • Public mental health
  • Well-being
  • Prevention
  • Primary care
  • Mental health
  • Adult social care
  • Carers
  • Training
  • Commissioning