Around 160 people from across our communities came together as part of an ongoing mission to reduce the number of suicides in Cornwall to zero.
The annual ‘Towards Zero’ event took place on Thursday, November 23, at Heartlands in Redruth and included a range of presentations, workshops and networking opportunities.
It was organised by Public Health Cornwall with a theme this year of ‘Creating Hope Through Action’.
Speakers included representatives from men’s mental health charity Man Down, Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF) and Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT).
The ‘Towards Zero’ movement began in the USA as a way of talking to and engaging with communities to help to prevent suicides.
Michelle Hooker, Public Health Practitioner and suicide prevention lead in Cornwall Council’s Public Health team, said:
"I was delighted to see so many people coming together for this year’s event and putting suicide prevention at the top of everyone’s priorities. Collaboration is key in suicide prevention and the event was attended by colleagues across the voluntary sector, local authority, NHS and members of the public which is testament to the commitment to joint working in Cornwall.
"Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and has devastating consequences for families, friends and communities. We need to face it and talk about it together, and this is what the Towards Zero event helps us to do. There is free training for anyone who lives or works in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly to help them feel more confident in conversations and in signposting services.”
Becky Fox, Mental Health Nurse and suicide prevention lead at CFT, said:
“It was especially moving to hear and learn from survivors of suicide and those impacted by suicide bereavement. Anyone can be at risk of suicide so it is vital we reach out to each other - it gives me hope to know that there are a growing number of organisations and people who can help if you are struggling with thoughts of ending your life. CFT’s mental health crisis line can be contacted 24/7 on 0800 038 5300 if you or someone you know is in crisis.”
Cllr Dr Andy Virr, Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health at Cornwall Council, said:
“There is a huge amount of work going on to change and improve the way we support people having suicidal thoughts, as well as those who have been bereaved by suicide. The stigma needs to be tackled so more people feel able to ask for help and access support, and events like Towards Zero play a vital role in that.”
Tim Francis, Associate Director of Strategic Commissioning: Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism at the ICB, said:
“The system-wide commitment across the health and care sectors, as well as amongst our local voluntary, charitable and social enterprise sectors is something we should be really proud of. We are seeing support increase year-on-year to tackle health inequalities by providing more personalised and meaningful support in ways, and in places, that really matter to people.
“Towards Zero keeps us all on course and remind us all of the huge importance of improving the availability of the things that people tell us are so important to them when they feel vulnerable or at crisis point, and which help promote personal recovery, wellbeing and resilience.”
If you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health call CFT’s 24/7 NHS mental health response line on 0800 038 5300. It's free to access by anyone, any age, any time, day or night.
For more information and videos from the event visit the council’s Towards Zero Suicide web pages.
Press release issued on December 4, 2023.