Organisations across northern Devon are joining together to get the message out that it’s safe to talk about suicide, in a campaign that’s been launched to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September).

The team behind the campaign – One Northern Devon – is a collaboration of public, voluntary and community sector organisations working in northern Devon, including NHS, councils, the police, the fire service and charities.

One Northern Devon is developing a joint suicide prevention plan and individual organisations are signed up to doing what they can to prevent suicide. To show their commitment, they have developed and signed the One Northern Devon Stop Suicide Pledge, which encourages people to talk about suicide and direct people to support. They are now encouraging other organisations and individuals to sign the pledge.

Russ Drayton, joint lead for the Devon and Torbay Suicide Prevention Alliance, said: “People are often very anxious about how to talk about suicide, and worry that if they ask someone if they are feeling suicidal, it might put the thought in their head, but this is not the case. If a person is suicidal, the idea is already there. If they aren’t suicidal, it won’t do any harm.

“This campaign and the Stop Suicide Pledge aim to get people talking about suicide and the support available, and to promote the message that it is safe to talk about suicide, because saying something is safer than saying nothing.”

Throughout the campaign, One Northern Devon wants to get 1000 people and 50 organisations in northern Devon signing up to the pledge. Organisations and people from elsewhere in Devon are of course encouraged to join in.

One Northern Devon formed in 2017 and since then, the organisations that make it up have been working more closely than ever before, with the aim of improving the health and wellbeing of people in northern Devon together.

Andy Ibbs, chair of One Northern Devon and executive director of strategic development at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “One Northern Devon is all about recognising that we all have a part to play in people’s health and wellbeing and suicide prevention is a great example of this. Preventing suicide is not just a health or mental health issue, but something that requires a whole community approach. “It is fantastic that we’ve been able to come together in developing a joint plan which outlines how we will deliver the Devon Suicide Prevention Strategy locally. The first step in this is for the One Northern Devon organisations to sign the pledge, but this campaign is about taking this wider – we want employers, education providers, community organisations and individuals to sign the pledge and get the message out that it is safe to talk about suicide.”

In the UK and the ROI, 6000 people die by suicide each year, which means 18 people are taking their lives every day.

Paul Keedwell, director of nursing and practice at Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which provides mental health and learning disability services across the county said: “Evidence tells us that talking about any aspect of our mental health and emotional wellbeing, including having thoughts about suicide, is a positive step. Most people who take their own lives have never been in contact with mental health services and this initiative strives to make suicide everyone’s business – we are proud to be associated with it.”

More information and resources

You can sign the Stop Suicide Pledge and find resources to help you support people by visiting the Devon and Torbay Suicide Prevention Alliance website

For support with talking about suicide, there are some fantastic resources on the Samaritans’ website

There is also lots of useful information on the Devon Partnership NHS Trust website

Pete’s Dragons supports people who are living through the suicide of a loved one, and they are launching in North Devon on 10 September. Find out more at:

The pledges

For public sector, third sector and private sector organisations in North Devon and Torridge

We pledge that we will:

  • Recognise our important role and play our part in delivering the One Northern Devon Suicide Prevention Plan
  • Promote the ‘It’s safe to talk about suicide’ message
  • Ensure staff are aware of the support available to them, their colleagues and members of the public
  • Encourage our staff and those we serve to sign the Personal Stop Suicide Pledge
  • Encourage staff to be open and honest when life gets difficult and help them get support if they need it
  • Encourage staff  to reach out and talk to colleagues they may be worried about
  • Encourage staff to provide support / signposting to people they serve during their work

Individual pledge

For myself

I pledge that I will:

  • Identify someone who I would be comfortable talking to about how I’m feeling and check they’d be happy to listen
  • Share with that person how I am feeling if I am struggling and need help
  • Use other sources of support if needed, for example Samaritans phone line (116 123 – free and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year)

For others

I pledge that I will:

  • Reach out to colleagues, friends or family members and tell them if I am worried about them and be ready to listen
  • If someone gives any indication that they’re feeling hopeless, ask clearly “Are you having any thoughts of suicide?”
  • Help them get support if they are struggling and/or thinking about suicide
  • Do what I can to keep them safe for now

Visit to sign the pledges.