Posted on: 21 August 2023
Health leaders in West Yorkshire have issued a clarion call to all to become a Suicide Prevention Champion and join the effort to reduce the area’s above-average suicide rate.
As we count down to World Suicide Prevention Day, on September 10, West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WY HCP) has launched its ‘Suicide Prevention Champions’ campaign, urging everyone to sign up and pledge their support to the ambition to lower the suicide rate for West Yorkshire.
The campaign aims to recruit a growing cohort of Champions who are willing to take an active role in challenging stigma and raising awareness to help create a world where fewer people die by suicide.
Champions can access all the latest suicide prevention news, resources, support services and information so they can help spread the word and encourage suicide prevention action in their home, communities and workplaces across West Yorkshire and beyond.
Becoming a Suicide Prevention Champion takes minutes, signing up via an online form, and involves watching a 20-minute suicide awareness video, by the Zero Suicide Alliance, and making a pledge – big or small – about how you plan to promote suicide prevention and challenge stigma of suicide.
The Partnership has set itself the ambition of recruiting 281 Suicide Prevention Champions by the end of the year – one for each of the 281 people whose deaths were registered as suicides in West Yorkshire coroners’ courts in 2021 - and then to keep growing.
Richard James (pictured, above right), acting consultant in public health and lead for WY HCP’s suicide prevention programme, said: “We need everyone’s help in reducing suicides.
“We want all citizens of West Yorkshire to know that they can do something to change the status quo, even if this is as simple as putting up a poster at work.
“We know that if thousands of people across West Yorkshire make a small change, collectively we can bring our suicide rate down.
“Suicide deaths are preventable deaths and you never know when you might have the opportunity to step in, and say something which just might save a life.”
The most recent figures show West Yorkshire continues to have a higher suicide rate than England as a whole, with a rolling three-year rate in registered suicide deaths of 13.2 per 100,000 people in 2021, compared to 10.4 per 100,000 nationally. In 2020, West Yorkshire’s three-year rate was 12.6.*
The Suicide Prevention Champions campaign is not about dealing with people in crisis or offering mental health support but about learning when and where to signpost as well as taking action – through pledges – to champion suicide prevention.
Rob Webster CBE (pictured, right), CEO for NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board and CEO Lead for WY HCP, who lost his 32-year-old brother to suicide in 2003, was the first West Yorkshire Suicide Prevention Champion to sign up.
He said: “This is an important campaign and I would urge all to consider signing up.
“Now is the time to act on this issue – we can all make a difference by becoming a Suicide Prevention Champion and tackling the stigma. By doing the Zero Suicide Alliance Training and feeling confident to have those conversations and knowing where to send someone who does need support, you will be helping to save lives.
“We know that every person lost to suicide impacts many others and that impact lasts forever. It certainly is the case for me and my family.
For more information and to sign up, visit https://
- Read, and watch, charity leader Stan Foster's personal experience of suicide as he speaks out in support of the Partnership's Suicide Prevention Champions campaign
*Latest ONS data on registered deaths from suicides in England and Wales (Source: Suicides in England and Wales by local authority - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)).·
A breakdown also showed rates rose in all areas of West Yorkshire, except for Kirklees, over the same period. All areas except Bradford are above the national average.
In Leeds, the rolling three-year aggregate rates for registered suicide deaths rose from 13.3 per 100,000 people in 2018-2020 to 13.9 in 2019-2021;
In Wakefield, this rate rose from 16.2 to 17.3;
In Calderdale, it rose from 15.6 to 16.9;
In Bradford, it rose from 9.2 to 9.8.
The suicide rate for Kirklees fell from 11.8 to 11.2 per 100,000 people (but remains higher than the England average of 10.4).