It is estimated that a third of suicides occur outside a private home or building. This opens up the opportunity to put measures in place for last-minute intervention. In this article, we explore the benefits of identifying frequently used locations, to target resources where they can have the greatest impact.
Not The Last Stop
Back in 2021, Suicide Prevention Bristol picked up on a trend. In one month, six individuals called a taxi to take them to a location known to be frequently used for suicide. In these cases, the taxi drivers didn’t realise the significance of the journey and lives were lost. This prompted a campaign called ‘Not the Last Stop’.
This campaign focused on informing taxi drivers of known, higher-risk locations. It also educated them in spotting warning signs and appropriate interactions. They included engagement in conversation and contacting welfare officers in the Police if they had concerns about a passenger.
There is Someone
The same Suicide Prevention Charity has now launched a new campaign, ‘There is Someone…’. More recent research has shown a rise in the use of buses to reach an intended final destination. The accessibility and affordability of buses in the South West and the anonymity of blending in with passengers have been identified as reasons behind this trend.
In collaboration with First Bus, suicide prevention helplines and other support are being actively promoted on 500 buses, along with bus stops. It is anticipated that this information will be seen by 1.5 million passengers. In addition, bus drivers are being informed of stops close to suicide risk locations and being trained to recognise signs of distress.
Preventing Suicides in Public Places
Preventing Suicides in Public Places* is a document aiming to support the UK Suicide Prevention Plan. In it, local councils are advised to identify known sites in their local area.
This information leads to investigations on what can be done to reduce the risk. Research can include how people travel to the site, along with what makes the location an opportune place. Actions can then be taken to consider what can be done to encourage intervention, reduce opportunities and limit access to the location.
When sites are identified, it also encourages local authorities to consider ‘where else?’ That is, what other locations have similar features?
The document does acknowledge that not all suicides will occur in known locations. Also, broad thinking and a multi-pronged approach are necessary to provide alternatives to people in crisis. Simply blocking access to a location is not the solution, as it will just shift the problem somewhere else.
Warning Against Promoting High-risk Locations
Whilst insight into high-risk locations can focus resources in specific areas there is a word of caution. This information is valuable in cases, such as the two campaigns led by Suicide Prevention Bristol. However, there are warnings against promoting ‘suicide hotspots’ to the general public. In some cases, this glamorises the location and encourages people with suicidal intent to travel to them.
Securing your Premises
Public places are defined as ‘any location outside a private home where suicide may be witnessed or the body found by someone unknown to the deceased’. This could include construction sites, high-rise public buildings, hospitality cleaning cupboards and other workplaces. A vigilant approach to health & safety and security is an important strategy in suicide prevention. As is providing information on support services in public spaces.