In Mind: An update on the Zero Suicide movement from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty

I wrote last week about how we want to play our part in making Liverpool the most active suicide prevention region in the country and we’re thankful of the support from Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Luciana Berger MP.

Many other councils and local authorities have also adopted the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) prevention training and below is an indication of the media coverage given to last week’s launch event in Liverpool and the training.

It’s also not just traditional forms of media that have helped spread the word of our free, 20-minute online training. Social media has also helped in that and there has certainly been a huge increase in traffic both to the ZSA website and their social media accounts.

The free training takes only 20 minutes to complete and can be accessed here.

Since August 21, the day the BBC broadcast the moving programme ‘Stopping Male Suicide’, there have been over 300,000 impressions on the ZSA twitter account in the 24 days that followed that programme, which also encompasses last week’s World Suicide Prevention Day. Impressions on Twitter is the total tally of the number of times a tweet has been seen from that account, which means nearly a third of a million people have seen the ZSA’s messages in just over three weeks.

While the extra attention and increased profile is always welcome, particularly when spreading such an important message, our real objective of course is to get as many people as possible to take the training, giving them the skills to have a conversation with someone in crisis.

I’m also delighted to announce in the 24 days since the BBC programme we’ve had nearly 14,000 people take the course, while nearly 3,000 visited alone last Monday on World Suicide Prevention Day – they are fantastic figures and were just what the ZSA had hoped for when it was launched last year.

We will be working with our ZSA partners during the coming weeks and months – particularly in the countdown to World Mental Health Day on 10 October – to build on this momentum and I will, of course, report back when there are further developments.

All this positive coverage in the ZSA’s objectives is welcome, but can I declare a note of caution as we also approach Halloween at the end of next month? Some of you may remember we have a real battle to ensure all the fun surrounding 31 October is not ruined by language that stigmatises mental health.

In the last few years we have had ill-judged costumes sold by supermarkets and amusement rides given names that undermine everything we have tried to do as a Trust in breaking away from the stigma sometimes associated with mental health.

Last week I wrote how I had signed a letter with, among others Luciana, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Steve Mallen, the founder of the MindEd Trust, and celebrities like Stephen Fry and Richard Curtis, urging the media to be more careful with their reporting of suicide.

As we approach all the Halloween events, I’d like to think we could all be more mindful of the language we use and let’s try to make a positive change to the way society talks about mental health.

Media Coverage of the ZSA:

Unilad: https://www.unilad.co.uk/featured/uk-suicide-epidemic-worse-reported/

Liverpool Express: https://liverpoolexpress.co.uk/help-save-a-life-on-world-suicide-prevention-day/

Peterborough Telegraph: https://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/health/calls-to-back-zero-suicide-ambition-for-peterborough-on-world-suicide-prevention-day-1-8630305

St Helens Reporter: https://www.sthelensreporter.co.uk/news/council-gives-backing-to-suicide-prevention-campaign-1-9344050