High suicide rates in Brighton and Hove have prompted the housing and homelessness charity BHT Sussex to trial an innovative pilot scheme to tackle the problem.
The charity has set up an alternative respite service for people in the area who are thinking about suicide.
The figures for suicide in Brighton and Hove are significantly higher than average rates in England and, BHT Sussex said, existing services to support people are overstretched.
It said: “This new approach presents an alternative which can also take some of the pressure off local clinical services.”
The pilot service is called Respite@Shore and it provides a short-term, comfortable, non-clinical and caring space to support those thinking about suicide to regain stability and control over their lives.
Respite@Shore is based within an existing BHT Sussex service, Shore House, which provides supported accommodation and intensive support to 20 people with a range of mental health diagnoses.
The first phase of this pilot, funded by the Sussex Suicide Prevention Innovation Fund, and aimed at clients already known to BHT Sussex services, began in March and ends this month.
NHS urgent care transformation funding has now been secured to expand this pilot into a 14-month second phase starting in July.
The second phase will build on the successes and learning from the first, working closely with local NHS services, and will be open to external NHS referrals.
The director of mental health and support services at BHT Sussex, Rachael Kenny, said: “While existing local services are doing a great job, they are overstretched, and we want to increase people’s choices beyond clinical options.
“Respite@Shore provides a calm supportive environment and an opportunity for people to prevent their suicidal feelings escalating to the point where they might need help from NHS urgent care services or a stay in hospital.
“We have had positive feedback to the first phase of the pilot and consistent success in de-escalating client’s suicidal feelings.
“We are very pleased to have secured additional funding to continue and expand this much-needed service which responds to a significant local issue.”
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