Researchers from the University of Manchester have discovered for the first time that suicide rates have come down after authorities introduced 24-hour crisis teams and other health measures in England and Wales.
Areas where the trust had implemented between seven and nine of the key recommendations made by the National Confidential Inquiry (NCI) had lower suicide rates than those that implemented six or fewer, researchers said.
According to the researchers, there was a major drop in suicide rates when the government had implemented 24-hour crisis teams, policies for drug and alcohol misuse and multi-disciplinary reviews after a suicide. This team had implemented the nine recommendations in England. As a result, suicide rates in England have fallen.
NCI and Mental health services have been studying and collecting data on suicides in the U.K. since 1997. The study focused on the 12,881 suicides in 91 mental health services in England and Wales between 1997 and 2006.
"These are really important findings for suicide research and mental health services internationally. No other studies have been able to show what impact specific mental health service improvements have on suicide rates," said Nav Kapur, Professor of Psychiatry and Population Health from the University of Manchester.
"For most of the nine recommendations, services that implemented them had a decreased suicide rate after implementation. The results show that NHS services and mental health professionals are likely to have contributed to the prevention of suicide and the saving of lives," he said
"The community care reforms of the last decade seem to have had a positive impact on patient suicide - providing more intensive support to the most vulnerable patients appears to have improved their survival," said Professor Louis Apple, Director of the National Confidential Inquiry
"We welcome this excellent study showing how local implementation of comprehensive mental health services reduces the number of people who die by suicide. It proves the value of investing in safe psychiatric wards, close follow-up of discharged patients and specialised teams. In these difficult financial times, it is wrong to cut back on these essential mental health services when we need them the most," said Dr Peter Byrne, Associate Registrar at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.