On Wednesday 5 July 2023, the UK’s biggest suicide prevention initiative, the Baton of Hope, is coming to Brighton & Hove as part of a 12-day tour of the UK, involving media, MPs, celebrities, and key speakers. Brighton & Hove is on day 11, before the tour finishes in Parliament in London.
The event is designed to raise the profile of suicide prevention by passing a Baton between people with lived experience of suicidal ideation or have been bereaved by suicide.
Nationally, over 20 charities specialising in mental health and suicide prevention have signed up to support the event, including Grassroots Suicide Prevention and Samaritans.
80 baton bearers will pass the Baton across the route in Brighton & Hove. Events will be held at various locations throughout the day with entertainment, stories of hope, and time for people to gather. It aims to bring people in the city together to break down stigma related to suicide.
Suicide rates in Brighton & Hove are statistically significantly higher than rates in the South East and England, with an average of 38 deaths by suicide per year in the city (ONS data).
Suicide has a devastating impact on families, friends, colleagues, and communities, and suicide prevention for all ages remains a priority both nationally and in Brighton & Hove.
In Brighton & Hove, suicide prevention is led by the multi-agency Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Steering Group. Chaired by Public Health, the steering group has membership from partners including; several council teams, NHS Sussex, Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust, voluntary sector organisations, emergency services and Brighton & Sussex universities.
The Steering Group are leading the development of the city-wide Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention action plan 2023-2026. This will be aligned with the 3-year Pan-Sussex Suicide Prevention Strategy which was developed earlier this year.
Brighton & Hove City Council also facilitates a Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Partnership group as a forum for wider organisations in the city to share updates and expertise on this topic.
Talking about suicide is an important way to break down stigma, but the topic must be discussed safely and responsibly in a way that avoids causing unintentional harm.
The Samaritans have produced an excellent resource which summarises how to talk about suicide safely online. It focuses on things that are posted on social media and in chats with friends, but the advice can be applied to other conversations around suicide too.
Among other advice it asks you to:
If posting on social media, you can tag @batonofhopeuk and use #batonofhopebrighton