A unique event aimed at preventing copycat suicides and supporting bereaved families is taking place in South Yorkshire as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.


On Friday 17 May, staff from the NHS, police, local councils, the prison service, local newspapers, and voluntary organisations in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw are coming together to hear powerful stories from real families bereaved of suicide.


With our region having a higher suicide rate than the England average, the ‘aftermath of suicide and the role of the media’ workshop aims to support local professionals in thinking about their role and the changes that could be made to talking about and reporting suicides to reduce further anguish for bereaved families and friends, as well as reducing the chances of copycat suicides.




Attendees will hear from Barnsley author, Jonathan Lee* who will share his experiences of being personally affected by suicide, and will watch a film made for the event featuring three further bereaved local families. The topics of conversation will also include how social media impacts on young people, featuring high profile examples of suicide linked to social media, such as the story of 14 year old Molly Russell** who took her own life in 2017 and whose father feels social media site Instagram played a part in her death.


National charity, Samaritans will speak on the day about the responsible reporting of suicide whilst also being on hand to support any attendees who may be affected by the content. The Independent Press Standards Organisation will discuss the balance between freedom of speech with the rights of individuals.


South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw has a higher suicide rate than the England average and partners working within the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS) are aiming to reduce this number  by at least 10%.


Leading the work for the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS, Diane Lee, head of public health at Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council said:

“Suicide is a complex issue and there are many individual risk factors which lead to someone taking their own life, but there is substantial evidence that if extensive detail is published about a method of suicide, or if the coverage is widespread or sensationalist this can encourage suicidal behaviour among those who may be vulnerable. There is also evidence that shows stories of hope and recovery can be positive for those who are suffering.


 “Sadly, more people in our region take their own life than they do in other parts of the country and although great effort is made at a local level, by joining together as health and care partners across a wider area, we can go much further and hopefully make a real and lasting difference to people across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.


“The effects of suicide are profound.  Not only on the family and friends of the person who has died but also on the wider community and often the media and social media extend this reach even further. I believe we all have a responsibility in our many different roles to look after each other better and a part of our work focuses on the importance of our own communication about suicide and the impact we all have as individuals, organisations and partners.”


The workshop is just one part of a partnership approach to reducing suicides and will be supported by local campaigns and improved support available to people across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw; including comprehensive training programmes, a retrospective coroner’s audit – a psychological autopsy – allowing partners to examine the circumstances leading up to someone’s death to understand whether anything further could have been done by services or the local community to support that individual; thereby supporting others better in future, real time surveillance of known vulnerable or “at risk” people and improved  bereavement support co-produced by those who have been affected.


If you are suffering in the aftermath of suicide, or need to talk to someone, please contact   Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or visit the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/



Notes to Editors


National suicide rate: 9.6 per 100,000, South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw suicide rate: 10.4 per 100,000


Annually in the UK around 6000 people lose their life to suicide, with young people under the age of 25 making up approximately 10% of this number.


Since 2007 there has been a general increase in the UK rate of suicide and the Mental Health Foundation estimates that one person in fifteen will have made a suicide attempt at some point in their life https://mollyrosefoundation.org/


In 2017 there were 5,821 suicides in the UK

In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives than women

In the UK, the highest suicide rate was for men aged 45-49



*Jonathan Lee’s story:




**Molly Russel’s story:



Across the UK  Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org


The South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System is a group of NHS partners, with support from other statutory bodies in the region, which joins forces where it makes sense to do so and where it makes a positive difference to patients, staff and the public.  Our aim is to break down organisational barriers so that we can wrap support, care and services around people as individuals and positively change lives. www.healthandcaretogethersyb.co.uk/



CARL JESSOP ON 07918 368 573