A resource to prevent the incidence of ‘suicide clusters’ has been launched by Public Health England to coincide with World Suicide Prevention day.
Young people are susceptible to suicide clusters if they attend the same college or are connected on social media. The resource can help school nurses recognise the signs of suicidal thoughts in young people/
‘Suicide cluster’ is the term used to describe an unusually high number of suicides in close geographical proximity in a short space of time. They tend to occur in settings such as prisons, schools, and psychiatric facilities. The resource states that people involved in suicide clusters share psychological profiles, and tend to be similar in age, gender and social circumstances.
Professor Kevin Fenton, the national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: ‘Suicide clusters understandably cause great concern and may lead to hasty responses. No single agency is likely to have the resources or experience to manage these events on their own and this resource aims to support local bodies in working together so they can analyse any situation quickly and prepare a coherent, measured and co-ordinated response.’
The resource highlights the role that media plays in the incidence of ‘suicide clusters’. It states that media, both conventional and social, is ‘probably the most important influence prompting clusters to develop.’ The resource suggests that suicide clusters tend to occur at time when suicide is a prominent topic in the news, with incidences spiking when descriptions of suicide are published.
Professor Louis Appleby, chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group said: ‘Clusters of suicides may occur in communities, groups of friends or institutions. The people affected may live near each other, attend the same college or be connected through social media. Young people are particularly susceptible.’