Why ‘Zero Suicide’?
‘Zero Suicide’ can clearly be a (desirable) target to aim for but it is also a philosophy and framework that has been developed over the past 20 years to help those trying to make significant and sustainable shifts in reducing the number of suicides.
In January 2023, The Jordan Legacy launched a new strategy designed to raise the bar in terms of collective ambition in suicide prevention and to plot a course of collective practical action that can realise that ambition. Shared learning and collaboration are at the heart of this strategy because we know we can’t do this alone but together we can achieve a transformation in suicide prevention.
Our mission is to move the UK towards a Zero Suicide Society, which we defined at the start of 2023 as a society that is willing and able to do all it can to prevent all preventable suicides.
Research suggests that most suicides are preventable so we must surely be willing to do all we can to prevent all those that are preventable.
The Jordan Legacy’s long-term, collaborative strategy is being rolled-out as an ‘Action-Research Project’ during 2023-2024 and has 5 components or phases (it’s a fluid design not linear!):
1 – Identifying those who share the same vision, values and ambition
We first try to identify those who believe that most suicides are preventable and that we can significantly reduce the number of suicides in the UK. We also try to identify key shared values, which include the importance of humility and collaboration.
2 – Interviews, conversations, analysis and report publication
We continue to conduct one-to-one, qualitative interviews with stakeholders identified. During each interview, we are asking a number of questions, which, when narrowed down, should answer the key questions; ‘How can we significantly reduce the number of suicides?’ and ‘How far can we go?’. As we progress, we evolve our questions to also cover progress being made, barriers to progress, and how we can over come these barriers.
On July 11th 2023, Jordan’s 38th birthday, we published our first interim report, ‘Moving Towards a Zero Suicide Society’. You can read this report on this page on our website.
3 – Action centred discussion forums
The Jordan Legacy will continue to organise a series of discussion-based group forums (August event information here) to share the emerging research project findings and further investigate what can be done to significantly reduce the number of annual suicides in the UK. All aspects of the research will be reviewed and challenged.
4 – Collaborative action plan launch events
As we move into the Autumn of 2023, The Jordan Legacy will launch a series of physical and online events, where we will invite those people we interviewed, and those they recommend should attend, to discuss how the findings from the research project can best be implemented as a collaborative action plan.
5 – Implementation and continuous action learning
A plan will be created to implement the agreed recommendations and collaborative approach. The plan will highlight what is working and will work in reducing the numbers of suicides. This will be a dynamic action learning process which will continue relentlessly until we achieve our vision and ambition.
To read a more in depth explanation about The Jordan Legacy’s 2023-24 moving toward a Zero Suicide Society action-research project, please see this article on our website.
Other activities we undertake to support our suicide prevention strategy:
- Our online educational panel events to discuss and share practical solutions to prevent suicides
- Delivering speaking engagements, talks and working on joint community projects to encourage schools, workplaces and community centres to introduce practical suicide prevention activities and policies
- Forging partnerships with Police forces, professional firms and other charitable projects to consult and support their wellbeing and suicide prevention strategies
- Our annual Hope for Life (UK) Conference and awards event in Harrogate, North Yorkshire – to inspire and bring hope to a physical audience of 150 attendees and a wider online audience
- Our website and social media and online platforms which provide Help and Support resources and keep our followers informed about our progress toward our mission
- Planned development of a national database of those working in mental health and suicide related services to encourage collaboration between third sector and professional services
- Our fortnightly online radio show, Jordan’s Space, with lived experience stories, bringing hope and inspiration to a global audience
At The Jordan Legacy, we recognise that:
- We must guard against suggesting that all suicides are preventable or that a ‘zero suicide society’ is easy to achieve
- Despite the best efforts of loved ones and all those involved in mental health care and suicide prevention, some people will end their own lives
- Initiatives to ‘move toward zero’ must be collaborative and supportive, not just empty targets.
- We must avoid low ambition though – most national and regional suicide prevention strategies set at no greater than ‘10% reduction in 5 years’, have not been met.
- Many at a national level, feel that significantly reducing suicides seems too hard – there is a lack of belief and ‘moving towards zero’ sounds like a fantasy.
- Narratives like ‘it’s good that the number hasn’t risen’ is not something we can accept any longer.
- Research suggests that most suicides are preventable – surely we should be preventing most suicides?
If significantly reducing the annual number of suicides in the UK, well below 6000, sounds impossible then it’s time to tackle suicide prevention at the micro level as well as at the macro level.
If we asked an individual hospital, school, university, workplace or community setting ‘What should your target be for suicide deaths in the next 12 months?’, would they respond by saying 10%, 25% 50% or ‘it has to be zero’?
At The Jordan Legacy, we believe we need to work more at the micro level, in collaboration with others, to have a collective macro impact on reducing suicides and ‘moving toward zero’, although we continue to try to influence government and national approaches.
A Suicide Prevention Act – please sign this petition
Here’s are two practical actions you can take to help reduce the number of suicides and get those numbers on a long-term downward trend ‘towards zero’:
Please sign the petition here.
Then ask everyone you know (who also wants to see the suicide numbers falling) to sign the petition by sharing this link: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/640961
We are asking the UK government to: ‘Introduce a Suicide Prevention Act to seek to minimise suicides’
Zero Suicide Transformational Model
Research and engagement with the global ‘Zero Suicide Community’, carried out by Paul Vittles, now a member of The Jordan Legacy team, in 2019-2020, led to the development of a transformation model summarised in this diagram below. This model has influenced The Jordan Legacy’s thinking and approach to suicide prevention.
- Community Solutions
- Design out suicide
- Workplace wellbeing
- Digital + Human lifesaving systems
Success in moving towards zero will only be achieved in collaboration with those who share the same ambition and the same belief – ‘The Zero Suicide Community’ – working together.
Top-down leadership requires full engagement by:
Ground-up leadership requires engagement by
All of us!
Every individual, irrespective of their role in business or society can make a difference using their spheres of influence.
For this part of our strategy, our actions are aimed at benefitting communities, including; schools, colleges and universities, local businesses, non-professional and professional sports clubs and teams, local chambers of commerce and business groups and associations, local charities and support groups, local NHS and mental health teams, suicide prevention leads, charities and other third sector organisations and groups by sharing relevant information, advice, awareness-raising, education, and support to help create communities where suicide prevention is more openly discussed and deaths by suicide become increasingly rare events.
We will collaborate with local communities and those providing mental health and suicide prevention support, who support our vision to move toward a Zero Suicide society. We will identify and share what is working well within these communities, so that others may learn from these initiatives and implement similar approaches.
Design Out Suicide
Originally a broader concept developed to take a design thinking and process engineering approach to all the steps that lead up to someone taking their own life, including restricting access to means, this concept has been embraced by those involved in the design and construction of outdoor structures and places, including places which are often chosen by people intent on ending their own lives.
For this part of our Zero Suicide strategy, our actions are aimed at engaging with those who are actively involved in supporting mental health and preventing suicides in the design of the built environment; and also those employed in the construction sector where suicide rates are high.
Most of us will spend a third of our lives at work, so it’s important that workplaces are psychologically safe environments, where mental health and employee wellbeing are seen as core business issues.
Most people who take their lives each year are employed. In a supportive workplace environment, the involvement of leaders, managers and all employees is an important component in suicide prevention.
Digital & Human Lifesaving Systems
For this part of our Zero Suicide strategy, our aim is to engage with those working in digital communications technology fields, including those developing apps, real time surveillance solutions, social media platforms, websites and other emerging technologies, to raise awareness about suicide and encourage the research and development of practical solutions which will help prevent deaths by suicide.
The Jordan Legacy will continuously look for gaps and breakthrough ideas via the positive application of digital communications linked to human support systems. This includes complementing and challenging existing suicide prevention and wellbeing research and activities.
Jordan’s Place – a centre for hope
Our actions are specifically aimed at benefitting the general public and those more directly impacted by mental health challenges and suicide, by providing relevant information, advice, awareness-raising, education, and support to help move the UK to a society where suicide prevention is more openly discussed and deaths by suicide are rare events.
We aim to continually promote the public benefits of advancing mental health and suicide prevention approaches; developing, collating and sharing ‘what works’ with the general public and those groups, organisations, institutions and individuals who are able to help save lives.