18 April 2017

Seafront team highlighted for suicide prevention work

Brighton & Hove’s seafront officers have been highlighted in good practice guidance for their work to prevent suicides.

The team are featured as a case study in the Local Government Association’s (LGA) guidance for councils on ways to prevent suicides.

The seafront is one of the city’s main attractions, providing pleasure all year round for millions of visitors. It’s also a high-risk area for suicides.

Seafront officers were one of 70 local services provided with suicide prevention training to help them identify people at risk, learning how to reach out to them and connect them with further support.

The seafront team patrol the eight miles of Brighton & Hove’s coastline 365 days a year, using a 4X4 vehicle and quad bikes. They are trained to save lives at sea and work closely with Sussex Police and NHS emergency services. From May to September they are joined by 30 seasonal lifeguards.

Seafront manager Chris Ingall said: “It’s becoming increasingly common for us to be called out to people in these sorts of situations. We’re often the first on the scene because we can be anywhere on the seafront in less than eight minutes. We keep an eye out during our regular patrols, and we’re in contact with the police, ambulance service and the public.”

Last year 12 vulnerable people were rescued from the sea and many more helped to address mental health problems.

Councillor Alan Robins, lead member for the seafront services, said: “Visitors see our officers patrolling in their yellow and red uniforms, helping people have a safe day out by the seaside, but our team is often involved in difficult and sometimes tragic circumstances so we really appreciate the LGA recognising them for their excellent good practice.”

On average in England 13 people take their own lives every day. Brighton & Hove’s public health team has come together with partners like the NHS and voluntary organisations through a suicide prevention strategy group.

Local charity Grassroots Suicide Prevention produced an app, StayAlive, aimed at people considering suicide and people concerned about someone else. It’s been well used, with more than 20,000 downloads. Other local projects include awareness-raising in schools and with taxi drivers, and an innovation fund to encourage new ideas to prevent suicide and reduce self-harm.

More information about the services on Brighton & Hove's seafront