Suicide is a major public health concern, with data suggesting that suicide rates may be increasing. Ambulance services receive thousands of calls each year related to mental health issues, with responding to suicide a common element of the job. This article uses a service evaluation to explore the data collected by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) NHS Trust in relation to deaths by suicide and discuss how this can be used to improve pre-hospital and emergency department practice. The service evaluation used a retrospective patient cohort comprising calls made to NWAS over a six-month period from 1 January to 28 June 2019 inclusive. Of the 46,869 calls made to NWAS, 124 resulted in a death by suicide, with an average age of 43.6 years. The majority of deaths by suicide were by hanging. Investigation of the clinical notes for each case revealed that many of the individuals had mental health issues recorded in their documentation, and almost one fifth had previous contact with the ambulance service. Preventive interventions are important in supporting those bereaved by suicide who may be at increased risk of death by suicide.
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