Suicide Prevention in Ambulance Services


Preventing Suicide and Supporting Wellbeing in the Ambulance Sector


The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) and the Office of the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer (CAHPO) were delighted to launch in spring 2021  three publications aimed at supporting the health and wellbeing of the ambulance sector workforce and preventing suicide in this service.

The publications were formally launched at the Ambulance Leadership Forum on the 18 May 2021 by Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England.

They comprise the following:

Working Together to Prevent Suicide in the Ambulance Service: A National Consensus Statement for England       

The consensus statement sets out the shared commitment and call to action of all partners, to lead sustainable change across the ambulance sector, focusing on promoting good mental health and wellbeing, providing care and support when needed, and ensuring a positive culture.


Working Together to Prevent Suicide in the Ambulance Service: What We Know

This publication presents evidence to support the increased risk of suicide in the ambulance sector, particularly male paramedics when compared to the general population.

Rather than identifying a single driver of suicide risk in the ambulance sector it identifies collective risk factors which impact overall mental health and wellbeing, which provide the foundation for the national consensus statement and associated next steps for action.


Working Together to Prevent Suicide in the Ambulance Service: Next Steps

Based on the findings of the Prevention of Suicide in the Ambulance Service: What We Know publication, and the commitments made in the associated National Consensus Statement for England, this document sets out the recommendations for action for the prevention of suicide in the ambulance service.


The background to this work


The Office of National Statistics’ Suicide by Occupation (Data 2011-2015) details the risk of suicide male paramedics as being 75% more likely to take their own life than any other health care professional.

As a result, in April 2020 the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England, Suzanne Rastrick, commissioned a programme of work to address the increased risk of suicide amongst paramedics.

This programme of work brought together key stakeholders in the form of an ambulance sector suicide prevention and wellbeing advisory group, to feed into this work and shape the final publications.

Stakeholder groups included:  


Other work linked to these publications:

Through the establishment of the ambulance sector suicide prevention and wellbeing advisory group for the original purpose of developing the ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide in the Ambulance Service’ documents, there have been several opportunities to initiate discrete pieces of work related to the overarching aim of suicide prevention and mental health support in the ambulance sector.

Details of this work and the respective lead stakeholder(s) are as follows:

Working Together to Prevent Suicide in the Ambulance Service: Implementation Self-Audit Tool

This brief tool is designed to aid ambulance services to implement the recommendations of the Working Together Consensus Statement and Next Steps documents.

 


Postvention guidance for the Ambulance Service

An evidence based postvention guidance toolkit aimed at ensuring excellent support after a suicide within the paramedic community, to help prevent further deaths.

Read the Postvention Guidance here.


Family Support Handbook for families and friends of ambulance sector staff – TASC

The handbook is an important resource for families and friends of ambulance sector staff, and contains links to relevant sites and further information held by The Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC) and other organisations as appropriate.

The document is available for download here and is also hosted and maintained by TASC on their website,

It is also available in the Ambulance Wellbeing Resources section of this website.

 


The Mental Health Continuum

The mental health continuum is a tool which helps us to think about our wellbeing, to identify when it is low, and what actions we can take to improve it.

Mental health is not an all or nothing concept – it can change frequently and be affected by many things such as work, home life, bereavement, ill health and more.  Even positive things can affect our mental health, such as the pressure after getting a promotion or the stress of a house move.

We will all experience difficulties at some point during our life.  A continuum is used to show that we can move between the different states of wellbeing; thriving, surviving, struggling and crisis.

Access the assets here:

Mental Health Continuum for the Ambulance Sector – Background and Evidence Review

How to use the Mental Health Continuum 

The Mental Health Continuum – Visual Aid


Ongoing work:

  • Mental health and wellbeing resources for pre-registration and newly qualified Paramedics

These resources include curriculum guidance regarding personal mental health and wellbeing for pre-registration paramedic training, which will include content and experiences within pre-qualification training, a wellbeing and recovery support tool for used by paramedic students and early career staff in ambulance trusts and a learning and development package for student and preceptorship supervisors.

This work is being led by the College of Paramedics in partnership with Health Education England, and will be published in the Ambulance Wellbeing Resources section of the AACE website in the coming months.


  • Formalising and implementing an approach to a central suicide register for the ambulance sector

The purpose of this process is to record the number, characteristics and contributory factors associated with deaths by suicide within the ambulance service sector across the UK whilst collecting a consistent dataset that will facilitate the prevention of future deaths and monitoring the impact of prevention activities. The overall goal is to reduce suicide deaths amongst the ambulance service workforce.

 This work is being led by AACE and will be published in the Ambulance Wellbeing Resources section of this website in the coming months.


Additional Resources:

SHARE: consent, confidentiality and information sharing in mental healthcare and suicide prevention (HTML)

SHARE: consent, confidentiality and information sharing in mental healthcare and suicide prevention (PDF version)

HCPC statement on guidance on health and character and suicidal ideation 

NHS Employers: Empowering staff to assess suicide risk in colleagues


Supporting our work:

We are appealing to key stakeholders to share all of these publications through their own communications channels; websites, social media, relevant virtual forums and email bulletins.

Download the publications here


 

If you have any questions about this programme of work, please contact anna.parry@aace.org.uk