Real Time Suspected Suicide Early Alert System: A Case Study Approach

Grant McGeechan, Catherine Richardson, Kevin Weir, Lynn Wilson, Dorothy Newbury-Birch

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Purpose: This report describes the evaluation of a police led real time suspected suicide surveillance system and identifies the barriers and facilitators to running a pilot. The report will outline the various components which are needed to deliver a real time suicide strategy in England. Design/methodology/approach: Comparison of a coroner led real time suspected suicide surveillance strategy versus a pilot police led real time suspected suicide surveillance strategy. The time taken for a death to be logged as a suspected suicide using both strategies between October 2014 and September 2015 was compared to see how soon after a death support services could engage with those bereaved by a death. The number of suicides recorded within the county during the pilot strategy was compared to a similar time period for the three preceding years. A focus group and two interviews were held with representatives from the police force, and from support services to uncover any barriers or facilitators to the police led real time suspected suicide surveillance strategy. Findings: On average suspected suicides were logged using a Police Command and Control Report almost three days quicker than the existing coroner led system, however no Command and Control Report was filed for 36.5% of suspected suicides. Consent to be contacted by support services was given by next of kin in 78.0% of suspected suicides within the County during the pilot strategy. This consent was obtained through Notification of Death Form completed by the police officer at the scene. All people who gave consent were contacted by the support service and 50% of those went on to have a face to face consultation with a support service representative. The focus group results suggest that there needs to be a real emphasis on how to record suspected suicides otherwise some deaths may not be correctly logged. The results of the interviews with support services indicated that they had noticed a marked increase in referrals into their services, and they were engaging with clients much earlier than they had prior to the pilot. Practical implications: A police led real time suspected suicide surveillance has the potential to inform partnership activity almost immediately and ensure that those bereaved by suicide have an offer of support almost immediately. However, if this pilot is to be successfully rolled out there needs to be complete buy in from police and coroner’s office and the method for recording a death as a suspected suicide should be integrated into their everyday role to ensure that no deaths are missed. Support services must be prepared for an increased demand on their services.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages0
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2016


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