Focal point for key issue
Northumbria Police is breaking new ground as it champions mental health by hiring its first suicide prevention co-ordinator.
Suzanne Sleeth has moved from her role as an analyst within the force to the newly-created position.
This will see her act as a focal point, bringing together all six local authorities, crisis teams and a range of charities with the aim of providing help to those most in need.
It is hoped that the role, which was created with the help of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, other NHS personnel and all of the local authorities in the force area, will help remove the barriers that prevent people from accessing the help they need.
A range of grassroots projects will be implemented to support the most vulnerable and look to identify these people at the earliest opportunity.
Suzanne said: “It’s so important we get this right – it’s vital we signpost people to the right places and support to get before they end up in a dangerous situation or in need of a crisis negotiator.
“This is such a unique way of making a difference to someone’s life. We know that if you lose a loved one to suicide, you are more at risk of taking your own life. We also know that young people who are at risk of self-harm are statistically more susceptible to taking their own lives.
“So what this role will do is ensure all services are linked up – from the coroner to the local authorities and health services – so everyone can have a full picture.
“So often, officers from Northumbria Police are that first point of contact for people in crisis, so it’s important that we give our staff as much information as we can so they make sure those vulnerable people get the help they need.
“It’s about turning that sad situation into something positive and making sure we can give people the highest level of service.”
She added that she believes her analytical skills are crucial to this role. Instead of mapping and predicting crime trends, she will be using data to target typically harder to reach groups who are in need of support.
The force is hoping through Suzanne, those in need can be signposted to community projects, support groups and other initiatives that might just save a life.