A new strategy has been launched to prevent suicide among young people after more than a third of teenagers in a Yorkshire city have admitted they are unable to cope with the pressures of modern life.
Sheffield City Council has been working with partners, including charities and the NHS, to help reduce the risk of suicides and offer mental health support for young people.
A number of young people from across the city have been involved with developing the suicide prevention pathway, including a 20-year-old woman, known as ‘Becky’.
She said: “I always had suicidal feelings as I grew up. I never got any support to help me cope with these and ended up attempting suicide twice.
“I don’t want anyone else to go through what I have experienced and that’s why I got involved with writing this suicide prevention strategy. Suicide is a scary thing to talk about but this strategy will help to make sure that children and young people’s needs are taken seriously.”
Sheffield City Council’s Every Child Matters 2015 survey shows that more than a third of 24 and 15-year-olds in the city have had feelings so bad, they felt they couldn’t cope with them.
The authority has therefore been working with Sheffield Futures, Chilypep, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board to create the strategy to tackle the issue.
The strategy is aimed at frontline practitioners to help them support young people at risk of suicide. It is part of a raft of new local initiatives supporting children and young people’s mental health, including developing a better link between child and adolescent mental health services and schools, creating a one-stop-shop for advice and setting up a counselling service for young people up to the age of 25, as well as providing training for schools on a range of mental health issues.
Offering more support for families, friends and those affected by young people’s suicide and boosting support for practitioners working with young people and victims of domestic abuse also form part of the scheme.
It adds to Sheffield’s existing programme, which has seen ten schools provide emotional wellbeing support to its pupils and staff.
Becky is part of a group of people aged 14-25 known as Support, Think, Act, Motivate, Participate (STAMP), which has been funded to involve young people in working to improve the mental health of youngsters across the city as part of Sheffield’s Local Area Transformation Plan.
The group, which has been facilitated by the charity Chilypep, has created a film to support the launch of the strategy, as well being involved in developing the initiative itself.
Councillor Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families at Sheffield City Council, said: “ We want to create an emotionally healthy and wealthy city and this strategy that builds on our healthy minds work will help us to achieve this.
“Young people have told me that having a safe place to talk and get help early, is a vital part of helping them overcome stress and preventing their problems from getting worse. Through this strategy we will ensure that the support is there for our children and young people to do this.”