By Local Democracy Reporter
THE number of people to have unexpectedly died while being users of Thurrock’s mental health service has almost doubled in 12 months.
The figure, which is believed to be driven by suicides, was revealed in a report on the borough’s mental health and emergency care programme that was discussed during a Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Thursday.
The report states that in 2017 the service hoped to see a 10 percent reduction in unexpected deaths from 53 the previous year but instead it jumped to 81.
Mark Tebbs, director of commissioning at Thurrock CCG, said: “There is an ambition to see all suicides as preventable. We need to be doing more on this and we are looking at what other areas have done to move toward a zero-suicide ambition.
“There is a lot of stigma around this so it is not easy and there is no one agency that can make an impact. It is about coming together and tackling it together.”
A spokesperson for the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees the service, said: “The NHS national framework for serious incidents from 2015 defines an unexpected death serious incident as a suicide or self-inflicted death or a homicide.
“Tragically suicide still affects and takes far too many lives. The Trust’s suicide prevention strategy states that our aspiration as an organisation is to achieve zero suicides for those who use services.
“We are taking action to improve systems and environments to reduce the risk; including rolling out risk assessment and suicide prevention training for all staff.
“We regularly review our serious incidents and share any learning from them across the organisation; our involvement in suicide prevention work across Essex with partner organisations also provides us with an opportunity to learn from others.
“We are also working in partnership with the Samaritans to provide emotional support for all our patients who need it. Once our patient agrees to be contacted by the Samaritans they will proactively call the patient at a time convenient for them.
“Sometimes people experiencing emotional distress can experience feelings of isolation and low self-worth, and may not access services. This partnership with the Samaritans increases the likelihood that the person accesses emotional support when it is needed.”