£2 million funding for Zero Suicide Alliance

Teresa May provides £2 million funding for Zero Suicide Alliance

The Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) today welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to provide £2 million over the next two years to help their efforts to improve suicide prevention in the UK.

The Prime Minister announced the funding during her World Mental Health Day speech yesterday, which is designed to improve suicide awareness and training and the development of an innovative digital suicide prevention resource and exploration of cutting edge analytics to predict risk.

Launched last year in the Houses of Parliament, the ZSA is a coalition of almost 100 NHS and other organisations. It is run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust from Liverpool, the first mental health trust in the country to publicly commit to a zero suicide policy and backed by Steve Mallen from the MindEd Charity as an expert partner and Geraldine Strathdee the Former National Mental Health Lead.

Joe Rafferty, Mersey Care’s Chief Executive and one of the founder members of the ZSA, said: “As a self-formed partnership between mental health providers and their partners, the ZSA has already made significant national progress on a voluntary basis. With the funding announced by the Secretary of State, this positive collaboration will now go from strength to strength. 

“This announcement of Government backing for the ZSA is fantastic news for every person who has ever struggled with suicidal thoughts and everyone left behind by someone who has taken their own life. The ZSA believe just one life lost is one too many.

“The ZSA is already acting as a catalyst and focal point for a broad range of suicide prevention activity across the widest possible group of mutually supportive NHS and partner organisations in this country. As part of this work, the Alliance training, which we developed here at Mersey Care, has now been taken by thousands of people with each one of them now becoming equipped to engage with those at risk.

“Moving forward, this funding will enable us to broaden our reach to include a range of options to ensure that NHS response to suicide is the very best it can be wherever you are when the need arises.”

The ZSA teamed up with Relias UK, one of the leading training providers in the country, last year to provide a free, online training tool, which uses clinical expertise and experience from those with lived experience of suicide.


It takes only 20 minutes to complete the course and gives everyone the skills to approach difficult conversations with those who may be struggling and help signpost them to accessing services. The training can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/2O60YIQ

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “Every suicide is a preventable death and there’s so much more we can do to reduce the number of people lost to it. The Zero Suicide Alliance’s new training and awareness tools will help health and care staff recognise the signs and step in before it’s too late, as well ensuring openness and transparency when suicides do occur.

“This funding is a vital step forward to help further reduce inpatient suicide and underlines our commitment to bring down the number of suicides everywhere.”


For further information contact: Myles Hodgson, Media Manager, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust on 0151 473 2797/07794 059031 or myles.hodgson@merseycare.nhs.uk or communications@merseycare.nhs.uk.


What is the Zero Suicide Alliance?
The Zero Suicide Alliance 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 ZSA aims to challenge the thinking that simply reducing suicide rates is enough. It 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 ZSA 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 what 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 ZSA hopes to identify good practices across all the mental health trusts in England and create a new strategy to be applied across the country.

Who are Relias?

Relias is a leading global provider of online learning solutions for health and social care. Working with experts at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Relias built the ‘Suicide. Let’s Talk.’ e-learning course, which focuses on developing the awareness, skills, and confidence to help those in need.                  

Important links:

Samaritans Suicide statistics report 2017


Information about Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust’s zero suicide policy


Information about Relias UK